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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 12,752 manufacturing businesses and provides direct employment to more than 215,000 people. The food and beverage manufacturing industries provide almost $20 billion in exports each year and are central to the employment and sustainability of the agriculture, meat, seafood, wine, wholesale and retail, and tourism and hospitality industries. In addition, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry generates an annual revenue of $9 billion and contributes significantly to the Australian health system.

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.

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 FBP - Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical 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 cluster pages. For distribution, please visit the Transport cluster.

Information sourced from the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast and the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and skills forecasts

Employment trends

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

Employment snapshot

Employment levels across Beverage Manufacturing and Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Product Manufacturing increased overall between 2000 and 2020, with levels peaking in 2018, and they are expected to remain relatively unchanged between 2020 and 2024. Employment levels for Food Product Manufacturing peaked at around 159,600 in 2018, but have since declined to approximately 119,400 in 2020. Employment levels are however, expected to increase again between 2020 and 2024.

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 close to 8% growth in employment till 2024.

In contrast, Technical Sales Representatives, Other Specialist Managers and Storepersons are more common VET-related occupations in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing industry, with Storepersons expecting the most significant employment growth to 2024 (13%).

Training trends

Training snapshot

In 2019, program enrolments in Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing-related qualifications increased to roughly 15,160, representing an increase on both the 2017 and 2018 figures. In addition, completions in 2019 were at the highest level recorded over the past five years, at approximately 6,400. The proportion of subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program has fluctuated slightly since 2015, with a low of 92% in 2018 and a top of 95% in both 2015 and 2019.

Just over three quarters of program enrolments were at the certificate III level (76%). Around two thirds (67%) of enrolments were in the area of Food Processing with the main intended occupation of Food and Drink Factory Workers not elsewhere specified. Many of the remaining enrolments were split across Baking (15%) and Retail/Plant/Advanced Baking (12%), with a range of intended occupations including Baker, Pastrycook’s Assistant, and Pastrycook.

Overall, private training providers provided closed to two thirds (65%) of the training for Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing-related qualifications, with some variation between qualification areas. For example, private training providers delivered most of the training for Food Processing qualifications (87%), while TAFE institutes provided the majority of training for Wine Operations (85%), Baking (75%) and Retail/Plant/Advanced Baking (68%). Around 91% of all training is Commonwealth and state government funded, followed by domestic fee for service (6%) and international fee for service (4%).

More than one third (36%) of students resided in Queensland, followed by Victoria (34%) and New South Wales (13%). Similarly, the majority of training was delivered in Queensland (36%) and Victoria (36%), followed by New South Wales at 13% .

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements peaked in 2013 at around 5,560 and have been in decline since, with 2019 recording the lowest level of commencements at roughly 1,870. Completion numbers have followed a similar pattern with a steady decline from the peak of around 3,270 in 2014, to close to 1,400 in 2019. The most common intended occupations were Baker, and Food and Drink Factory Workers not elsewhere specified.

Close to one third (32%) of apprentices and trainees were reported by Victoria, followed by New South Wales (28%), Queensland (14%) and South Australia (13%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, please visit NCVER’s VET students by industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region 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 were 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 and detail orientated, with the main employers listed as Nestle, Banjo’s Bakery Café and Goodman Fielder.

The Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC is currently overseeing a large training package product development project, a project being conducted in response to the outdated nature of food processing qualifications. This project will see almost the entire training package updated in order to meet current industry needs.

The main industry developments identified in the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast related to:

  • Flour and grain milling: A downturn in rice and grain production, as a result of drought, has in part been offset by the growth of artisinal and specialist producers, including those of organic, gluten free and wholmeal products, in response to growing consumer demand for healthier options. There is also a trend towards large scale automation and digital equipment to increase productivity, which in turn changes workforce skill needs. Demand is increasing for skilled technical millers, who at present gain skills through an international correspondance course which is supplemented by practical exercises facilitated by an industry association. Qualifications for flour and grain milling are scheduled for review in 2020-21.
  • High volume production baking (plant baking): As the processes to produce bread, bread products, biscuits and cakes are becoming increasingly digitised and automated, the skill sets required are more generic in nature. Sector specific skills are being gradually replaced with skills relevant to general food and beverage processing plants, as the operation of machines and associated tasks are becoming more uniform across the industry. Qualifications related to plant baking are scheduled for review in 2020-21.
  • Technology and automation: Increased automation and the associated reduction of manual roles in food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing has driven the demand for operators with higher numeracy, literacy and equipment operator skills, and problem solving skills. In addition, a report by the South Australian Training and Skills Commission on the agribusiness workforce highlights an industry reported deficiency in foundation skills and employability attributes among job seekers.
  • Alternative proteins: Consumer preferences to eat healthier, ethically produced food, and reduce environmental impacts is behind modest year on year growth of alternative proteins, particularly plant-based meat. Non-traditional protein sources such as insects, algal and microbial proteins are also becoming more widely recognised, particularly for their potential as livestock feed. The growth of this market will be monitored by the IRC, along with researching the need for skills not currently covered in the Training Package. Alternative proteins require skills relating to filtration systems, as well as supply chain and agronomy skills.
  • Indigenous foods: Health concious consumers are driving the demand for indigenous plant and animal products, with consumers beginning to recognise the proven nutritional benefits of bush foods, benefits long known by Aboriginal communities. This has been further evidenced by the integration of indigenous foods into the menus of world-renowned restaurants, as well as household brands like Peter’s Ice Cream launching an Australian native collection. Despite the increasing demand for indigenous Australian food, only 1% of the industry’s produce and revenue is generated by Aboriginal people, and the industry is lacking support in expanding its markets. In an attempt to address these issues, the CRC for Remote Economic participation is working to identify how national policies and institutions can support the meaningful inclusion of Aborignal and Torrest Strait Islander peoples in the commercialisation of their traditional plant foods.
  • Packaging: Consultation by the Commonwealth Government on Product Stewardship Amendment (Packaging and Plastics) Bill 2019 has highlighted a need for packaging that is sustainable. This Bill aims to make 100% of packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, along other amibitious targets. As a result, there is an emerging trend that the decision making responsibilities of workers in packaging plants may be changing, with a need to incorporate food safety decisions.
  • Food waste: Currently Australia produces 7.3 million tonnes of food waste across the supply and consumption chain, with 2.5 million created in homes, 2.3 million in primary production and 1.8 million in the manufacturing sector. Not only does food waste have significant environmental consequences, it is also estimated to cost the Australian economy around $20 billion each year. The industry is not seeking to remove packaging, but to develop better packaging, and take a more holistic approach based on environmentally friendly principles where byproducts can be re-purposed. To address this, the IRC is investigating ways to incorporate food waste management and awareness into existing units.

Environmental impacts: Primary production has been notably impacted by changes to the Australian climate, including worsening natural events such as drought, bushfires and floods. These natural events impact primary producers’ ability to supply their products to food, beverage and pharmaceutical processors and manufacturers. The wide range of industries being impacted by these natural events has led to ongoing consultation between a number of IRC’s.

Links and resources

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


Relevant research

Agribusiness Workforce Insights – South Australian Training and Skills Commission

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


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 Grape & Wine Incorporated

Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology

New South Wales Wine Industry Association

Queensland Wine Industry Association

South Australian Wine Industry Association

Wine Grape Council of South Australia

Wine Victoria

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)

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)

Sugar Research Australia (SRA)

Sugar Research Institute (SRI)


Employee representative bodies

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 industry (excluding Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing and Seafood Processing)
  • by ANZSIC 3 digit Beverage Product Manufacturing industry
  • by ANZSIC 3 digit Pharmaceutical Manufacturing industry
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations.

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

  • by employed total by ANZSIC 2 digit Food Product Manufacturing industry (excluding Meat and Meat Product Manufacturing and Seafood Processing), 2000 to 2020, May Quarter
  • by employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit Beverage Product Manufacturing industry, 2000 to 2020, May Quarter
  • by employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit Pharmaceutical Manufacturing industry, 2000 to 2020, 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:

  • FBP - Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical 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.

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%.

FBP - Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2000 to 2019 commencements
  • 2000 to 2019 completions
  • 2019 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2019 collection, by qualification and state and territory.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2020, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2020,

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2020 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: 05 Nov 2020
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