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Food and Pharmaceutical Production


Provides high-level information on the Food and Pharmaceutical Production industry cluster which is comprised of the following main sectors: Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing; and Meat.


This page provides high-level information and data on the Food and Pharmaceutical Production industry cluster, including information on employment levels and trends, training activity and priority skills.

This industry comprises two main sectors:

  • Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing
  • Meat.

Which incorporates the following key components:

  • Food processing and manufacturing (including abattoirs)
  • Beverage manufacturing
  • Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturing
  • Wholesaling and retailing of the above.
  • Feedlots and wild game harvesting.

The industry cluster includes nearly 13,700 manufacturing and processing businesses and 33,000 wholesalers and retailers, who collectively employ approximately 319,600 people.

The industry is generally characterised mainly by small- and medium-sized producers, who produce for local or niche markets; with a smaller number of large producers, who are often multinational companies operating globally.

More information on the sectors, their Industry Reference Committees, Skills Forecasts and Training Packages can be found on their respective sector pages. The relevant Skills Service Organisation for this industry is Skills Impact.

The Food Production industry sits within a larger value chain encompassing a network of stakeholders involved in growing, processing, and selling the food that consumers eat — from farm to table.

The 2017 CSIRO Futures Report for Food and Agribusiness points out that for Australia to succeed internationally, the entire Food and Agribusiness ecosystem must work together.

For information on primary production, including seafood, visit the Agriculture and Aquaculture and Wild Catch industry cluster pages.

For information on sales and hospitality, please visit the Retail and Wholesale and Tourism, Travel and Hospitality industry clusters. For distribution, please visit the Transport cluster.

Employment and training snapshot

Employment levels across these industry sectors have varied from 2000 to 2018; however, for all four sectors the employment level is higher in 2018 than it was in 2000. Employment levels are expected to remain relatively stable for all sectors till 2023 for all sectors with the exception of Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing, for which there is expected to be a decline by 2023.

Looking at Total VET activity (TVA) data across the Food Processing and Meat industry training packages, there has been a decrease in numbers of enrolments and completions between 2014 and 2017, with the number of completions decreasing more markedly in the 12 months to 2017.

More detailed breakdowns of TVA data are shown on the sector pages.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The following two Industry Reference Committees produced the Skills Forecasts directly associated with this industry cluster:

These forecasts point out that the industry has opportunity for growth, given exponential population growth and increasing demand for food. This opportunity is boosted further by government policies, such as free trade agreements, which facilitate access to international markets, such as the Asia-Pacific region.

In order to balance the ramifications of this population growth with the environmental impacts which result, ethical and sustainable approaches to agriculture and food production are necessary.

Technological advances have resulted in more automated, efficient and sustainable food, beverage and pharmaceutical processing; and a reduction of waste and water use. And rapidly rising energy prices have led to the identification of alternative energy sources.

Furthermore, there are trends towards healthier food options as well as ‘grab and go’ and ‘easy to eat’ options, and technological improvements have allowed for enhancement of the nutritional value of products produced by the industry.

Therapeutic goods reforms are also expected to encourage innovation in the Pharmaceutical industry, in order to provide patients with faster access to lifesaving, innovative medicines.

And the Meat Processing industry will be expected to maintain and enhance on its international reputation as a leader in animal health, welfare and ethical standards.

However, at the same time challenges to the industry also exist. With the exception of the Meat Processing sector, this industry has an ageing workforce, which presents challenges for recruitment and skill development. Compounding this, changes to the way the industry operates will require more demanding job roles and consequently, high level skills will be required.

Complementing these trends, the 2017 CSIRO Futures Report for Food and Agribusiness summarises the five megatrends that are affecting the Food and Agribusiness industry globally:

  • a less predictable planet
  • health on the mind
  • choosy customers
  • one world
  • smarter food chains.

The report finds that in addition to deep technical knowledge, skills are required in understanding supply chains, relationship management and digital platforms. Both structured on-the-job training and tertiary education play a role in obtaining these skills.

Furthermore, among priorities listed in the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre’s Sector Competitiveness Plan of 2017 is to ‘upskill the workforce on innovation, business models, market channels and supply chains, both nationally and internationally’(p. 10).

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.


Committees and Skills Services Organisations

Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC)

Skills Impact


Industry Reference Committees and skills forecasts and work plans

Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Industry Reference Committee

Meat Industry Reference Committee


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Industry sector associations

Ai Group

Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC)

Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST)

Food and Beverage Importers Association (FBIA)

Food Industries Association of Queensland (FIAQ)

Food Technology Association of Australia (FTAA)

Foodservice Suppliers Association of Australia (FSAA)


Dairy associations

Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF)

Australian Specialist Cheesemakers’ Association

Dairy Australia

Dairy Industry Association of Australia (DIAA)

National Centre for Dairy Education (NCDE)

Tasmanian Dairy Industry Association


Bakery associations

Australian Society of Baking (ASB)

Baking Association of Australia (BAA)

National Baking Industry Association (NBIA)


Sugar associations

Australian Sugar Industry Alliance (ASA)

Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC)

Australian Society of Sugarcane Technologists


Soft drinks

Australian Beverages Council


Beer and cider

Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand

Cider Australia

Independent Brewers Association



Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology

Australian Vignerons

New South Wales Wine Industry Association

Queensland Wine Industry Association

South Australian Wine Industry Association

Wine Grape Council of South Australia

Wine Victoria

Winemakers’ Federation of Australia

Wines of Western Australia



Australian Distillers Association (ADA)

Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA)




Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)

Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA)

Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA)

International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering

Medicines Australia (MA)

Parenteral Drug Association Australia

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia


Meat associations

AgriFutures Australia


Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA)

Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC)

Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC)

Australian Pork Limited

Goat Industry Council of Australia (GICA)

Kangaroo Industries Association Australia (KIAA)

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)

Meat Branch of NSW Food Authority

National Meat Industry Training Advisory Council (MINTRAC)

Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC)


Regulatory bodies

ACT Health

Australian Grape and Wine Authority (Wine Australia)

Dairy Authority of South Australia

Dairy Food Safety Victoria (DFSV)

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

New South Wales Biosecurity and Food Safety

New South Wales Food Authority

Northern Territory Department of Health

Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources

Office of the Gene Technology Regulator

Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC)

PrimeSafe (Victoria)

Queensland Department of Health

South Australian Department of Health

South Australian Meat Hygiene Unit

Safe Food Queensland

Standards Australia

Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services

Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment

Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

Victorian Department of Health and Human Services

VineHealth Australia

Western Australian Department of Health


Industry service bodies

Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL)

The Allergen Bureau

Medical Technology and Pharmaceuticals Growth Centre (MTPConnect)

Nutrition Australia

Wine Grapes Marketing Board (New South Wales)

Queensland Sugar Limited

Sugar Terminals Limited (Queensland)

Tasmanian Whisky Academy

Institute of Brewing and Distilling (International)


Food related research organisations

Australian Wine Research Institute

CSIRO Agriculture and Food

Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre (CRC)

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)

Sugar Research Australia (SRA)

Sugar Research Institute (SRI)


Employee representative bodies

Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU)

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU)

Breweries and Bottleyards Employees’ Industrial Union of Workers of Western Australia

National Union of Workers (NUW)


Links to other reports and resources

Food and Agribusiness: a Roadmap for Unlocking Value-added Growth Opportunities for Australia CSIRO Futures 2017

Sector Competitiveness Plan: Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre FIAL 2017



Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSIC 2 digit Food Product Manufacturing (excluding Seafood Processing), and ANZIC 3 digit Beverage Manufacturing and Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Product Manufacturing to May 2023.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 November 2018

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 digit Food Product Manufacturing (excluding Seafood Processing), and ANZIC 3 digit Beverage Manufacturing and Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Product Manufacturing, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection and Total VET students and courses from the following training packages or qualifications:

  • FDF10 - Food Processing Training Package
  • AMP - Australian Meat Processing Training Package.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Updated: 12 Sep 2019
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