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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. For distribution, please visit the Transport cluster.

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

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

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Employment levels across Beverage Manufacturing and Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Product Manufacturing have remained relatively stable, with small increases overall between 2000 and 2019, and employment across these two industry sectors are expected to increase slightly between 2019 and 2024. Employment levels for Food Product Manufacturing peaked at around 159,500 in 2018, but has since declined to approximately 145,200 in 2019, and is expected to continue this downward trend to 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

Both program enrolments and completions in Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing-related qualifications declined between 2017 and 2018, although the rate of decline was not as significant as the one experienced between 2016 and 2017. In 2018, program enrolments decreased to 14,490, and completions fell to approximately 4,440. By comparison, subject-only enrolments increased marginally in 2018, to 7,730.

Close to three quarters of program enrolments were at the certificate III level (74%). The majority of enrolments were in the area of Food Processing (61%) with the main intended occupation of Food and Drink Factory Workers not elsewhere specified. A further 31% were enrolled in the area of Retail/Plant/Advanced Baking, with a range of intended occupations including Baker, Pastrycook’s Assistant and Pastrycook.

Overall, private training providers provided more than half (58%) of the training for Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing-related qualifications, but there are some variances between qualification areas. For example, private training providers delivered most of the training for the Food Processing qualifications (81%), while TAFE institutes provide the majority of training for Wine Operations (88%) and Retail/Plant/Advanced Baking (73%). Around 89% of all training is Commonwealth and state government funded, with domestic fee for service making up most of the remaining portion (8%).

Approximately two in five students resided in Victoria (41%), followed by Queensland (25%) and New South Wales (17%).

More than two fifths of training was delivered in Victoria (42%), followed by Queensland (25%) and New South Wales (18%).

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements peaked in 2013 and have been in decline since, including a dramatic drop between 2013 and 2014. Since that point there has also been a similar drop in completion numbers. There were close to 2,370 commencements in 2018, and completions remained unchanged between 2017 and 2018 at roughly 1,600. The most common intended occupations included Baker, Food and Drink Factory Workers not elsewhere specified and Pastrycook’s Assistant.

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 and Parmalat Australia.

The top challenges and opportunities identified in the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast were:

  • Ageing workforce: A range of issues are coinciding with the changing demographic of employees which need to be considered by employers, unions and policy makers, and introducing the potential need to for different training practices in order to bring about results for both the industry and employees.
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Training and Assessment: Significant challenges have been posed by the lack of enrolments in pharmaceutical-related qualifications. This is largely attributed to the industry undertaking extensive in-house training, while often using the training package to to design and support their in-house efforts. In addition, there are no Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) approved to deliver the Certificate IV in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing. Currently, the system is not meeting industry training or accreditation requirements, and there is a need to research, identify and find solutions to deal with the complex factors surrounding this issue.
  • Consumer and industry trends: A variety of continuing and growing changes in consumer demand are impacting the industry, including:
    • Healthier, ‘clean’ and natural products
    • Growing interest in gluten free, dairy free and allergen free foods, and personalised nutrition
    • Knowing where products have come from, and how it was transported and processed
    • Ethical practices in food and beverage production
    • Minimising the carbon footprint and environmental effects of food and beverage production, and product transportation
    • Reduce and manage waste, including packaging.
  • Traceability: Increasing demand about knowing where a product has come from and what is in it has prompted changing regulations with regards to processing, packages and labelling of food, beverage and pharmaceuticals.
  • Provenance: Buying local, reducing food and beverage transport costs and imports, keeping local food producers and processors in jobs and supporting local businesses are all consumer trends that are influencing the way businesses operate, as well as the skills and knowledge required of workers.
  • Fraud: The deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering, or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients, or food packaging, or false and misleading statements made about a product has the potentional to seriously affect the global reputation held by Australia as a safe and reliable producer.
  • Food and beverage contamination: Contamination has been viewed by the industry as an urgent issue for at least the past five years, and as a result, there is a need to increase the skills and knowledge required to prevent the contamination of food and beverage products.
  • Food and beverage allergens: Allergic diseases are among the fastest growing chronic conditions in Australia which means the skills associated with understanding the common food groups that cause reactions, identifying and mitigating risks and accurate labelling and regulatory compliance have become critical for people producing food, beverages, ingredients, supplements and additives for consumption.

The Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast also highlights the impact technological advancements and computerisation are having on the industry, and as a result, the significant role technology plays in food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing has prompted a review of Food Processing qualifications and the potential development of new skill sets.

A report  by the Australian Investment and Trade Commission suggests that new technologies are helping the food sector by ensuring more profitable, efficient, safe and environmentally friendly local industry with flow-on benefits to international partners and markets. In order to support the implementation of new technologies, NSW Food and Beverage Manufacturing Industry Development Strategy 2019 outlines that jobs of the future will require deep technical knowledge, an understanding of supply chains, relationship management skills and digital literacy.

Links and resources

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


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

Wine Grapes Marketing Board (New South Wales)


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


Links to other reports and resources

Australia: Shaping the Future of Food and Agriculture: Opportunities for Investment and Partnership in Agriculture 4.0 – Australian Trade and Investment Commission

NSW Food and Beverage Manufacturing Industry Development Strategy 2019 – NSW Department of Industry

The Impact of Digital Technologies on Vocational Education and Training Needs: An Exploratory Study in the German Food industry – Education + training, volume 61, number 2, 2019, pages 222-233

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:

  • 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, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 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 2018 commencements
  • 2000 to 2018 completions
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 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 2019, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019,

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 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/li>
  • 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: 31 Mar 2020
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