About the Food Processing Industry

The food industry in Australia is a vital component of the economy. The industry makes a significant contribution to the economies of regional areas through employment, business and service opportunities.  In 2012-13, employment in food and beverage manufacturing in Australia was approximately 225,100 people, representing around 23.6 per cent of total manufacturing employment[1].

The department is a focal point for the development and consideration of food processing industry policy issues within Government. In addition to providing policy advice and support to portfolio Ministers on the food processing industry, the department is responsible for promoting and maintaining links across the Australian Government departments and agencies responsible for implementing elements of the Government's food industry policies.

Key statistics

The food, beverage and tobacco processing industry produced $24.4 billion of industry value added in 2012-13, which represents 23.5 per cent of manufacturing GDP and was 1.6 per cent of total GDP. This is followed by Machinery and Equipment at $21.8 billion and Petroleum, Coal, Chemical and Rubber Products at $19.2 billion[2]

In 2011-12 the Australian processed food and beverage industry spent around $548.3 million on research and development[3]


  • Australia exported $18.9 billion of processed food and beverage products in 2012-13 while it imported $11.8 billion worth of food and beverage products creating a net trade balance of $7.1 billion[5]
  • Australia exported $17.6 billion in substantially transformed food products and $335 million in elaborately transformed food products in 2011-12[6]

In 2011 Australia exported 2.2 per cent of the value of world trade in processed food and imported 1.0 per cent of the value of food trade in processed food. [7]

Related statistics

Export by industry

Australia's largest exports of substantially and elaborately transformed food and beverage products in value terms for 2011-12 were:

  • Processed meat other than poultry, bacon, ham and smallgoods
  • Dairy
  • Wine
  • Sugar
  • Food not elsewhere classified
  • Flour mill, cereal products
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Beer and malt
  • Oil and fat

Japan remained the largest destination for Australian food exports in 2011–12


[1] ABS, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, Original (Cat No. 6291.0.55.003). Note: Average calculated by summing calendar year quarters and dividing by four

[2] ABS, Australian National Accounts: national income, expenditure and product, Cat No. 5206.0

[3] ABS, Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia Cat No. 8104.0

[4] Import/export figures obtained from most recent available financial year data/source 

[5] ABS, International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, Cat No 5368.0

[6] Australian Food Statistics 2011-12 – Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

[7] Australian Food Statistics 2011-12 – Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

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