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Overview

This page provides information and data on the Meat sector, which is one component of the Food and Pharmaceutical industry cluster.

The Meat sector can be described as having five sub-sectors:

  • Meat Processing (Abattoirs)
  • Poultry Processing
  • Smallgoods Manufacturing
  • Wild Game Harvesting
  • Wholesaling and Retailing of Meat Products.

The Meat sector as a whole includes 1,215 processing businesses and about 6,000 wholesalers and retailers. The entire sector employs approximately 350,000 people who are involved directly or indirectly with the supply chain. Total sales turnover of the processing sectors was $25.5 billion in 2013–14.

Vocational education and training is required for occupations involved in:

  • Slaughtering
  • ​Meat Boning and Slicing
  • Butchering and Smallgoods Production.

Nationally recognised qualifications for the Meat sector are delivered under the AMP - Australian Meat Processing Training Package.

Information on primary production, including seafood will be covered in the forthcoming Agriculture and Animal Management industry cluster page.

Information on sales and hospitality will be covered in the forthcoming Retail and Personal Services, and Hospitality and Tourism industry clusters.

Information on distribution will be covered in the forthcoming Transport industry cluster.

Information sourced from the Meat IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing industry sector employment level across Australia has fluctuated over the last 15 years. From 2013 onwards however, the employment numbers have been increasing. The employment level is projected to remain fairly steady up until 2022.

Three occupations (Meat, Poultry and Seafood Process Workers; Packers; and Meat Boners, Slicers and Slaughterers) make up over 50% of the total Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing industry workforce. Employment levels in all three of these occupations are projected to increase until 2022.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Over the period of 2014 to 2016 there has been a decrease in the number of program enrolments and completions. However the number of subject only enrolments has increased.

The main intended occupation for people enrolled in Meat Retailing and Smallgoods Manufacturing related qualifications was Butchers and Smallgoods Makers. For those enrolled in Abattoir related qualifications the intended occupation was Meat, Poultry and Seafood Process Workers.

Private training providers and TAFE account for the majority of program enrolments at 54% and 38% respectively. The majority of training is Commonwealth and state funded regardless of training provider type. Over 80% of training took place in Victoria, New South Wales or Queensland.

Apprentice and trainee commencements have steadily declined over the period of 2001 to 2016. Completion levels remained stable from 2001 to 2015; however, there was a decline in 2016 which could be expected to continue given the continuing decrease in commencements.

For apprentices and trainees in training at December 2016 the majority were undertaking qualifications aimed at the intended qualification of either Meat Process Worker (Abattoir-related qualifications), or Butcher or Smallgoods Maker (Meat Retailing and Smallgoods Manufacturing-related Qualifications).

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

Infographic,, Infographic data:,, Title: Priority skills: 2017 skills forecast,, Infographic data:,, Title: Top priority skills,, specialised skills in the handling and treating of hides and skins, skills to undertake threat and vulnerability assessments, cross-trade engineering maintenance skills, pest control monitoring, warehousing and logistic skills,, 	Title: Top 5 Occupations in demand,, miscellaneous labourers, meat, poultry and seafood process workers, other factory process workers, electricians, product quality, controllers,, Title: Top locations,, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia,Western Australia,, Infographic source, Priority skills source: Meat IRC Skills Forecast and Schedule of Work 2017-20, Job vacancy occupations in demand source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight Real Time Labor Market Information tool

Industry insights on skills needs

According to job advertisements, the most in-demand VET-related occupation (Technicians and Trades Workers, Machinery Operators and Drivers, Sales Workers and Labourers) for the Meat Processing industry is Miscellaneous Labourers. The top location for advertised VET-related occupations in the Meat Processing industry is Victoria.

The Meat Processing industry sector’s 2017 IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work highlights a need to prepare for changing skill requirements at all levels of the Meat Processing industry as a result of the continuing growth of technology solutions. It is also anticipated that international emphasis on food safety and traceability will place a greater demand on individual businesses to develop skills to identify and manage the associated risks across the workforce. Priority skills identified by the Meat IRC for the Meat Processing industry sector workforce include:

  • specialised skills in the handling and treating of hides and skins
  • skills to undertake Threat and Vulnerability Assessments (TACCP and VACCP)
  • cross-trade engineering maintenance skills
  • pest control monitoring
  • warehousing and logistics skills.

A review of key Food industry reports that are relevant to the Meat sector highlights an emerging theme of new technologies and methodologies in the areas of sustainability and traceability. For example, the 2017 CSIRO Futures Report for Food and Agribusiness suggests increasing requirements from overseas customers for authenticity and transparency is driving the demand for more traceability and product origin information. Therefore Australian businesses will need to invest in both digital and physical technologies that provide greater transparency around product origin, production inputs, supply chains, processing materials, transport and distribution.

The Food and Agribusiness Sector Competitiveness Plan outlines a ten-year vision and strategy for the Food and Agribusiness industry. Among the priorities listed relating to future skilling of the Meat Processing industry workforce are:

  • food sustainability through the adoption of innovative practices and technologies to improve productivity and environmental outcomes
  • development of technologies that can provide food safety assurance and negate the impact of food fraud
  • development of technology, knowledge and strategies to assist operators in the value chain to improve processes, productivity and outputs
  • knowledge and a better understanding of global value chains, non-tariff barriers, and trade routes to enable competition in the global market.

A research report examining workforce training from the perspective of employers investigated enablers and barriers to training in the Red Meat industry. The report found that the availability of government subsidies was an enabler for supporting formal training and sometimes, skills sets. Without the subsidy, some of the firms were inclined to provide just the necessary skills sets for the job, complemented by non-formal and informal training. Formal training would then be restricted to selected employees. Barriers to training were identified as disruption to the company’s production schedule through the absence of employees undergoing training, along with unsatisfactory prior experience with training providers.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2017, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit 111 Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing industry, employment projections to November 2022
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations , employment projections to November 2020.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), sex, state and territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 September 2017 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202017?OpenDocument>

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit 111 Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing industry, 2000 to 2017, May Quarter.

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 3 digit 111 Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing industry, 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:

  • 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 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 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%.

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

  • 2000 to 2016 commencements
  • 2000 to 2016 completions
  • 2016 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2016 collection, by qualification and state and territory.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Meat Industry Reference Committee’s 2016–2017 IRC Skills Forecast and Work Schedule.

Burning Glass Technologies: Labour insight – real-time labour market information tool. <http://www.burning-glass.com>. 2017.

  • Job advertisements from all of Australia from January 2014 to July 2017 are included in the analysis. Data shown is the top five advertised VET-related occupations (1-6 digit level Technicians and Trades Workers, Labourers, Sales Workers and Machinery Operators and Drivers) in the Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing Industry and the top five locations and employers according to job advertisements.
  • Skills data has also been extracted from the Burning Glass labour insights job vacancy data tool. Data shown is the proportion of job advertisements which request generic skills for VET-related occupations in the industry and occupations listed above.