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Food and Pharmaceutical Production


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 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.

IRC and skills forecasts

IRCs now submit comprehensive Skills Forecasts to the AISC every 3 years, with abridged annual updates submitted in the intervening 2 years

Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical & Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Industry Reference Committees

Meat Industry Reference Committee

Employment and training snapshot

Please note: any employment projections outlined below were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics prior to COVID-19.

Employment levels across these industry sectors have varied between 2000 to 2020; with employment levels in 2020 higher overall for all sectors except Food Product Manufacturing. Although employment levels in Food Product Manufacturing have decreased overall between 2000 and 2020, it is projected to increase to 2024. Increased employment levels are also expected for Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing and Beverage Manufacturing, while Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Product Manufacturing is expected to decline slightly.

After consecutive years of decline there has been a slight increase in the number of enrolments in the Food Processing and Meat industry training packages, from around 22,970 in 2018 to 23,780 in 2019. Program completions also followed a similar pattern, with completions increasing from approximately 7,290 in 2018 to 9,140 in 2019. The proportion of subject only enrolments has been relatively consistent since 2015, with the majority of students enrolled in subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program.

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

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

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

The above Skills Forecasts highlight the impact consumer and industry trends are having on their respective sectors. Across all sectors, consumer demand and expectations are growing with regards to healthier products, product traceability, ethical production practices, impacts of climate variability and minimising carbon footprints, and food safety. These aspects are also reflected in the Sector Competitiveness Plan by FIAL, which discusses the rise of discerning and socially conscious consumers.

Further 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.

In addition, technological advancements have been highlighted in both Skills Forecasts as prompting the need for new skills from workers, as well as initiating qualification reviews and the potential development of new skill sets.

COVID-19 impact

The Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast and the Meat IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast were researched and written during 2019 and early 2020 and therefore do not include detailed responses to the COVID-19 situation. However, early concerns raised by the Meat industry relate to the spread of the virus among workers, quarantining of staff, and impacts to the pool of available workers as visa holders who were overseas when the virus took hold in Australia were unable to return to the country and their place of employment.

An article by KPMG does highlight some of the early impacts on the food and agribusiness sector, including a rapid increase in demand for products as a result of panic buying, and restrictions on some import competitors. Other factors influencing the supply chain, as identified by KPMG, include decreased availability of labour; decreased demand for exports; longer lead times due to reduced transport, logistics services, and travel restrictions; increased market access complexity; and increased biosecurity regulation.

Links and resources

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


Relevant research

COVID-19: Impacts on Australia’s Food and Agribusiness Sector – KPMG

2017 CSIRO Futures Report for Food and Agribusiness – CSIRO

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

Roadmap Development for a Meat Processing Intelligent Automation Centre – Ali Bab-Hadiashar and Alireza Tayeb Nama for the Australian Meat Processer Corporation

Sector Competitiveness Plan: Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre – FIAL 2017


Committees and Skills Services Organisations

Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC)

Skills Impact


Industry Reference Committees

Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Industry Reference Committee

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing 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)

Australian Institute of Packaging

Australian Technical Millers Association

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)

Western Australian Meat Industry Authority


Regulatory bodies

ACT Health

Australian Grape and Wine Authority (Wine Australia)

Dairy Authority of South Australia (Dairysafe)

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)

Institute of Brewing and Distilling (International)

Medical Technology and Pharmaceuticals Growth Centre (MTPConnect)

Nutrition Australia

Queensland Sugar Limited

Sugar Terminals Limited (Queensland)

Tasmanian Whisky Academy

The Allergen Bureau


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)

Australian Workers Union

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

United Workers Union

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2019, 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 2024.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1 August 2020

  • 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 2020, 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:

  • FBP - Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical 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:

  • 2015 to 2019 program enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 subject enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 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: 05 Nov 2020
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