Australian Meat Processing

The Australian meat processing industry consists of meat processors, smallgoods makers, retailers and exporters who together supply meat to both domestic and international markets. 

In general, this sector is characterised by a large number of small and medium-size producers producing for local or niche markets, with a smaller number of large producers that often are multinational companies which operate globally.

What does this industry cover?

Abattoirs: Process red meat such as beef, sheep, goat and pork. Australia is one of the top exporters of beef.

Poultry Processing: Most companies own all sides of production, which can include farms of all types, hatcheries, feed mills and processing plants. Poultry is the most consumed meat in Australia.

Wild Game Harvesting: Wild game animals are those that have not been farmed. In Australia, common types of wild game are kangaroo, boar and venison.

Meat Wholesaling and Food Services: This is an emerging growth sub-sector of the meat processing industry. They service the hospitality and supermarket industry.

Meat Retailing: Consists of business that sell meat such as independent or chain owned butcher shops, supermarkets and gourmet and speciality shops.

Smallgoods Manufacturing: This sector mainly consists of smaller speciality processers. Some products that are produced include, salamis, bacon, sausages, hams, pates and dried, roasted and preserved meat products.

Feedlots: These facilities are used to provide a balanced and nutritious diet for cattle and other farmed animals.

Job hunting preparation

The majority of the Australian Meat Processing workforce resides in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, with the most job opportunities in these states.

Occupations in demand are meat, poultry and seafood process workers, other factory process workers, meat boners and slicers, and slaughterers.

There is an increasing demand for skills such as continual learning, information literacy, autonomy and self-management. Technology is playing a larger role in this industry, and research and development are ongoing. There is an emphasis on biosecurity, food safety and traceability, which place greater demands on business leaders. Skills in leadership, entrepreneurship, customer service, marketing, and finance are therefore needed.

Changes in customer expectations is causing a shift towards traceability, health, welfare and ethical treatment of animals, and decreased use of hormones and antibiotics. These shifts are expected to change how businesses in this industry work, while increasing roles to support these changes.

New e-commerce platforms allows consumers to buy meat directly from farmers. Consumers can customise their buying power based on ethical farming, sustainable farming, quality and flavour, and farm location.

Information for further research

Industry information is published by peak level associations, government and major employers.  Accessing industry association sites, including member lists, is a good way of building up an understanding of an industry.  Visiting employer websites and looking for careers or employment menus helps identify how employers recruit and the skills they are recruiting.

Employment and wage data for this industry

Apprenticeships Employment Size

This is a medium to large industry for Australian Apprenticeship commencements. In the year to September 2022, commencements were: 5377

Source: VOCSTATS, extracted on 11/4/2023AATIS analysis.

Commencements Change

Commencements in the year to September 2022 in this industry have increased, compared with the previous year.

Source: VOCSTATS, extracted on 11/4/2023AATIS analysis.

Apprentice Employment Outcomes

For Australian Apprentice graduates from this industry, employment outcomes are meduim to high.

Source: NCVER National Student Outcomes Survey, 2020, unpublished. AATIS analysis.

Industry Employment Size

This is a medium sized industry compared with other Australian industries.

Source: National Skills Commission, 2022. AATIS analysis.

Industry Employment Change

In the next 5 years, change in employment in this industry is predicted to increase.

Source: National Skills Commission, 2022. AATIS analysis.

Industry Wage

The average wage of all employees in this industry is high.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2022. AATIS analysis.

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