Food and Beverage
Industry Capability Statements
These documents provides an overview of Australian food safety governance and compliance frameworks and the enabling role they play in supporting Australian capability in the food and beverage industry.
Unique, diverse, clean and green
Key food and beverage categories include meat, grains, dairy, horticulture, seafood, confectionery and beverages including wine. The industry supplies a diverse range of products to all distribution channels: retail, food service and food ingredients. Flexibility within the industry means product supply quickly matches consumer trends such as healthy and wellbeing, as well as convenience and value for money.
Food and beverage is a major industry sector for the Australian economy, in terms of both its financial contribution and employment. Food and beverage processing is Australia's largest manufacturing industry. Industry players are diverse in size - from multinationals producing large volume fast-moving consumer goods through to smaller players with flexibility to meet demand for niche gourmet items.
The industry is highly dynamic driven by demanding consumers seeking diversity, quality and value. The ethnic and cultural diversity of Australia is reflected in the food range available. Many specialty products have European, Asian and Middle Eastern influences. Foods with specific attributes including kosher, halal and organic are catered for by food certification systems and standards. The industry is internationally focused with exports to over 200 markets.
Australia has a reputation for supplying clean and natural products with low chemical residues. Quality and safety is paramount with strict safety standards regulated and enforced along the supply chain. Excellent R&D facilities, both public and private, assist in the innovation process by facilitating development of new and differentiated products, as well as continual improvements to packaging and production processes.
A diverse range of produce is available from Australia due to large climatic differences across the Australian continent, from the tropical north to the temperate south. Australia also has a counter seasonal advantage when supplying international markets in northern hemisphere.
Well established education and training facilities catering to the food and beverage industry, create an exceptionally skilled and adaptable workforce with specialised skills.
Right across the supply chain, the Australian food and beverage industry has adopted innovative manufacturing, packaging, product development and marketing efforts. From paddock to port, the industry is supported by reliable and world-class transport and distribution infrastructure.
Australia’s food processing sector is a particularly important part of Australia’s overall food production. It has been growing at a very healthy rate over the last decade.
The industry has been extremely quick to respond to consumer demands and trends, which of late has been for more convenient, healthier, fresher, less processed foods, with minimal storage time. By developing new food processing, separation and packaging technologies and innovations, Australia is staying at the forefront of the food industry worldwide. Combine these strengths with a reliable supply of high quality raw materials, a strong food safety regime through Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), an environment that encourages creativity, innovation and collaboration, and Australia is an ideal location for investment all along the chain.
International companies recognise this, which is why most of the world's leading food companies, including Nestle, Unilever, Associated British Foods, DSM, Danisco, Parmalat, Mars, McCains, Simplot, and Hakubaku have a presence in Australia, many of them for decades.
Industry and government are working collaboratively to produce solutions that compete more effectively with overseas producers. Opportunities for Australian processed foods exist in every market – with Japan the number one market, followed by the USA, Korea, Indonesia and New Zealand. Australia’s excellent environmentally sustainable safety credentials, as well as its disease-free status, are also backed by a strong regulatory framework, and innovations in traceability, quality assurance and supply chains. These attributes are considered by international analysts to be important factors in the industry’s future export success.
Australia has significant R&D capabilities in food processing including at Food Science Australia (FSA); the dairy industry through the Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre and the wine industry through the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). These capabilities are reinforced by successful spin-offs from universities. R&D in food processing is also being conducted by companies and through private research organisations.
Companies providing value-added products in food processing are supported by Australia’s strong, export focused, agricultural industry, particularly in areas such as:
- The dairy industry (eg. innovative companies focusing on extraction and purification of proteins, peptides and colostrum from milk).
- Wine (a sector that has demonstrated both strong leadership with its 2020 Strategy and an ability to take up innovative technology).
- The brewing industry (which also has a strong focus on innovation).
- The sugar industry, from 2003 to 2010, through the Cooperative Research Centre for Sugar Innovation through biotechnology (developing new wellness foods products including healthy fibres from bagasse).
- The meat industry through work supported by Meat and Livestock Australia.
In its simplest form, packaging plays an important role in keeping the food supply safe. Packaging maintains the quality of food after processing is completed, enabling it to be sent long distances from its point of origin. The design and construction of packaging also plays an important role influencing shelf life as well as aesthetic appeal.
Traditional materials used in packaging include glass, metals, paper and paperboards, plastics. A wider variety of plastics are now available both in rigid and flexible forms and today's food packaging often combine several materials.
In balancing today's heightened social and environmental consciousness and stricter regulations on pollutants and disposal of solid waste, many companies are turning towards more biodegradable options that have less impact on the environment.
Functional foods are any foods that provide inherent health benefits as well as those fortified with concentrated ingredients, modified in a way that aims to promote health and wellbeing, grown chemical-free, improve performance or reduce the risk of disease.
The market for intrinsically healthy foods has experienced remarkable growth and consumer interest in recent years. Companies are increasingly focusing on everyday foodstuffs, particularly whole fruit and fruit juices, which carry the ‘naturally healthy’ message. Berries (high antioxidant content), oats, whole grains, almonds, peanuts (all heart health), herbs/spices and orange juice (reduced risk of stroke) are examples of foods that have been successfully marketed for their intrinsic healthfulness.
Australia is often used as a trial market for functional foods originating from Europe and North America, because of its geographical location (away from Western regions) and common consumer attitudes towards health, nutrition and consumption habits.
Australians are becoming increasingly health conscious and interested in functional foods as a way of managing health concerns such as weight and high cholesterol. Australia has an ageing population, which is contributing to the rising interest in functional foods.
The growing demand for novel and healthy food ingredients makes this an important part of the food industry in Australia. Australia is also the perfect location in which to source key high quality horticultural products – with good land-availability, available water sources and expertise.
Moreover, Australia has an abundance of agricultural waste streams many of which remain largely untapped for nutritional and bioactive extraction.
With Australia’s profile of food production, processing and export, the opportunities for sourcing healthy foods, nutritional components and functional food development are extensive. Primary products such as grains, dairy, fruit, vegetables, meat and fish all have the potential to capitalise on their intrinsic nutritional value in the functional food market – and this in addition to their known value as core foods.
The global organic industry is the fastest growing food category, with demand outstripping supply in most developed economies. This presents significant export opportunities for Australia. Organics is practiced in over 120 countries of which Australia has the largest area of certified organic land with over 12.3 million hectares available.
Since 2000, the Australian organic industry has more than doubled in value. Currently there are over 2,500 organic operators representing all levels of the supply chain.
The Australian organic industry comprises a diverse range of products which is expanding due to increasing consumer demand. The most important sectors are beef and horticulture. Australian organic vegetable production includes:
- herbs and spices.
Organic fruit production includes apples, avocadoes, bananas, grapefruit, lemons, watermelon, olives, oranges and paw-paw.
The market for intrinsically healthy foods has experienced remarkable growth and consumer interest in recent years. Companies are increasingly focusing on everyday foodstuffs, particularly whole fruit and fruit juices, which carry the ‘naturally healthy’ message. Berries (high antioxidant content), oats, whole grains, almonds, peanuts (all heart health), and orange juice (reduced risk of stroke) are examples of foods that have been successfully marketed for their intrinsic healthfulness.