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Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing


This page provides information and data on the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing industry, which is one component of the Food and Pharmaceutical industry cluster.

The Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing industry can be broken into the following five key components:

  • Food processing and manufacturing
  • Beverage manufacturing
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Nutraceutical manufacturing
  • Wholesaling and retailing.

The industry includes 12,480 manufacturing businesses and 27,000 wholesalers and retailers, collectively employing approximately 217,600 people.

The sectors are characterised by many small- and medium-sized producers who are producing for local or niche markets, and a smaller number of large producers who are often multinational companies and operating globally. Total sales turnover of the manufacturing sectors decreased by 0.4% (or $414 million) to $101.9 billion between 2014–15 and 2015–16.

The industry workforce is ageing, with the number of employees in each age group category over 50 years increasing between 2006 and 2016 by up to 3 percent.

In the pharmaceutical industry, the majority of people are employed as Technical Sales Representatives, Storepersons, Advertising and Sales Managers, Specialist Managers, Pharmacists, Marketing Professionals, Logistics and Supply Chain Officers, and Machine Operators. While the most common occupations in the food and beverage industry are Food and Drink Factory Workers, Sales Assistants, Bakers and Pastry Cooks, Packers, Sales Representatives, Storepersons and Forklift Drivers.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required for many occupations within this industry and nationally recognised training in the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing sector is delivered under the Food Processing Training Package.

Occupations requiring vocational qualifications include Bakers and Pastry Cooks, Food and Drink Factory Workers, Food Preparation Assistants, and Sales Assistants.

The relevant Industry Reference Committees are the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing IRC.

Visit the Meat page for information on that industry sector.

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.

Information sourced from the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Employment levels across these three industry sectors have varied from 2000 to 2018; however, for all these sectors the employment level is higher in 2018 than it was in 2000. Employment levels are expected to remain relatively stable to 2023 for all three sectors.

Of the occupations related to the Food Processing Training Package, Food and Drink Factory Workers is the occupation which makes up the largest proportion of the Food Product Manufacturing workforce (14%), with Bakers and Pastrycooks, and Sales Assistants at just under 12% each. Similarly, Food and Drink Factory Workers make up just under 12% of the Beverage Manufacturing industry. This occupation is projected to experience considerable growth in employment till 2023.

In contrast, Storepersons, Other Machine Operators and Packers are more common VET-related occupations in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing industry. However, overall the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing industry has lower proportions of VET-related occupations than Food and Beverage Manufacturing industries.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Following three relatively stable years, both program enrolments and completions in the Food Processing Training Package decreased by over 20% in 2017. Program enrolments decreased to approximately 14,800 in 2017, and completions fell to below 4,500. By comparison, subject-only enrolments increased marginally in 2017, to over 7,600.

Food Processing qualifications make up over half of the training package activity, with Baking-related qualifications making up over a third of training activity.

Overall, private training providers provide the majority of training in the Food Processing Training Package, but this varies when looking at different types of accreditation within the training package. For example, private providers provide most of the training for the Food Processing qualifications, but TAFE institutes provide the majority of training for the Food Science and Technology, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Baking qualifications. Over 80% of all training is government-funded, and much of the training is undertaken in Victoria.

Looking at apprenticeships and traineeships in the Food Processing Training Package, commencements peaked in 2013 and have been declining since, with a dramatic drop between 2013 and 2014. Since that point we have seen a similar drop in completion numbers. Over half of apprentices and trainees in training are enrolled in a Baking qualification.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, please visit NCVER’s VET students by industry.

For more data specific to your location please visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

To extract NCVER data and construct your own tables, please sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

According to job advertisements, the most in-demand VET-related occupation for the Food Product and Beverage Manufacturing industries is Bakers and Pastrycooks, followed by Sales Representatives.

This same job vacancy data, indicates that the top generic skills in demand from employers in this industry are:

  • communication skills
  • detail-oriented
  • planning skills
  • problem solving skills
  • organisational skills.

The top cross-sector issues identified as a priority for the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Industry in their 2018 Skills Forecast are:

  • automation and digitalisation in pharmaceutical, food and beverage manufacturing processes
  • sustainable practices ensuring minimal energy consumption
  • advanced supply chain management skills to support the food and beverage industry
  • innovation in product development and food packaging
  • risk management skills and knowledge associated with Work Health and Safety (WHS) aspects of the industry
  • higher-level strategic planning and management skills across the food and beverage industry
  • online sales and customer service skills for the food processing industry.

The IRC Skills Forecast points 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.

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.

However, at the same time challenges to the industry also exist. With an ageing workforce presenting 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.

In this report, they point out that for Australia to succeed internationally, the entire food and agribusiness ecosystem must work together.

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.

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


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

Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC)

PrimeSafe (Victoria)

Queensland Department of Health

South Australian Department of Health

Safe Food Queensland

Standards Australia

Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services

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)

Sugar Research Australia (SRA)

Sugar Research Institute (SRI)


Employee representative bodies

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

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

  • by employed total by ANZSIC 2 digit Food Product Manufacturing industry (excluding Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing and Seafood Processing), 2000 to 2018, May Quarter
  • by employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit Beverage Product Manufacturing industry, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter
  • by employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit Pharmaceutical Manufacturing industry, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by ANZSIC 2 digit Food Product Manufacturing industry (excluding Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing and Seafood Processing), ANZSIC 3 digit Beverage Product Manufacturing industry, and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant training package related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce (excluding inadequately described, not stated and not applicable).

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

  • FDF10 - Food 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.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

FDF10 Food Processing Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2000 to 2017 commencements
  • 2000 to 2017 completions
  • 2017 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2017 collection, by qualification and state and territory.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018,

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • Technicians and Trades Workers, Labourers, Sales Workers, Machinery Operators and Drivers
    • 11 Food Product Manufacturing, excluding 111 Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing, and 112 Seafood Processing
    • 121 Beverage Manufacturing
  • Employers
    • 3511 Bakers and Pastrycooks
    • 6113 Sales Representatives
    • 6395 Visual Merchandisers
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 11 Food Product Manufacturing, excluding 111 Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing, and 112 Seafood Processing
    • 121 Beverage Manufacturing.
Updated: 12 Sep 2019
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