Delivering over $131 billion to the Australian economy each year, the Australian Manufacturing and Food Processing industry is second in size only to the mining sector. And as the Food Manufacturing industry continues to expand, the growing, processing and delivery of seafood, baked goods, cheese, cereals, meats, UHT milk, fruit juice and snack foods continue to adapt to meet changing demand.
Over 330,000 people are employed in the Food Manufacturing sector, including the growing, logistics and equipment maintenance space. In the second half of 2020, keeping jobs within Australia and strengthening the Australian economy after the effects of Covid-19, will be crucial for the growth of the industry and is backed by the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program.
IMPACTS OF COVID-19 ON FOOD MANUFACTURING
Like the rest of the globe, the Australian economy continues to be significantly impacted by the spread of Covid-19. While many sectors have declined during this period, a recent Deloitte Agribusiness review found that Food Manufacturing and Food Retailing sectors have slightly expanded. However, this is not without unique challenges.
The industry was initially impacted by the catastrophic summer bushfires. This was quickly followed by China implemented public restrictions on public gatherings in response to the coronavirus, resulting in the demand for luxury Australian goods such as wine and lobster, almost completely disappearing. Then food transport logistics were impacted, as sea containers became stuck in transit or needed to be diverted to other markets as fresh produce that requires chilling was affected by the reduction in air travel.
When Australia imposed restrictions to prevent community transmission, restaurants, pubs and cafes were reduced to takeaway food only. The public responded to the restrictions with alarm, which lead to panic-buying of items such as toilet paper, even though food scarcity is not a risk for Australia as 70% of the country’s agricultural production is exported.
This sequence of events and considerably more time at home led to an increase in Australian’s cooking and baking from scratch, changing the market demands for local foods. The call to revitalise Australia’s manufacturing sector has been heard, and many local businesses supplying cheese, flour, pasta, breweries, and meat have ramped up production to cope with the increased demand.
GOOD NEWS STORIES
FIRST AUSTRALIAN SEAWEED FACTORY OPENS
Four years ago, Australia’s seaweed industry for food, pharmaceuticals and beauty products was still being developed in test tubes. This month, the first Australian seaweed factory opened in New South Wales, with a growth plan to reach $100 million by 2025. Not only will this prospering industry create over 5,000 jobs in the first five years, but the facility also uses waste nutrients and carbon dioxide from a nearby wheat refinery to grow the seaweed.
FAVOURABLE WINTER SEASON PREDICTS INCREASED CROP PRODUCTION
An 11% increase is predicted for winter crop production, thanks to favourable levels of soil moisture across South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales in June. This prediction looks to remain steady as per the Bureau of Meteorology’s Quarter 3 Seasonal Outlook, which forecasts above average winter rainfall for Queensland and New South Wales, and average rainfall for most other agriculture regions.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE SECTOR TO ADAPT
Changes to imports and exports due to Covid has helped to re-educate the public about where the food they buy is grown and made. This presents several growth opportunities for the Food Processing and Manufacturing industry, including:
Develop new markets in Australia
Uninhibited by markets previously saturated with international imports, local businesses are thriving by creating new niche markets for Australians. A report by Nielsen confirms the top 5 preferences for locally produced foods in Australia are dairy, snacks and baked goods, cereals, bottled water and tea/coffee.
Find new labour sources
Traditionally, the horticulture sector has a strong reliance on seasonal labour, mostly comprised international travellers on working or holiday visas. But with very few overseas visitors and increased unemployment rates, farms are being inundated with requests for work from Australian Jobseekers. As working in agriculture is becoming popular again, the demand for labour hire companies to fill seasonal gaps is also increasing.
Strengthen supply chains
Leverage the Australian Agriculture’s “clean and green” reputation and increase the flexibility, traceability and resilience of the logistics and transport of locally manufactured goods. Joint research between EY and the WWF show that locally-built clean energy will increase the competitiveness of the manufacturing and food processing sector.
Changing consumer tastes
Even before the spread of Covid-19, there was a greater demand for plant-based foods across the globe. This demand has grown during the Covid period and with it, the desire to cook at home from scratch. Tinned foods, UHT milk, and frozen vegetables have all increased as a result.
HOW LABOUR HIRE COMPANIES SUPPORT INDUSTRY CHANGES
As the production of local Food Processing and Manufacturing across Australia increased in response to changing market demands impacted by Covid, labour hire agencies such as TRS Resourcing have supported businesses by matching highly qualified job seekers with open job positions.
Using a labour hire firm means that manufacturing businesses can employ temporary or permanent staff quickly, knowing that the staff they are provided are health and safety compliant and fully licenced.
The top labour hire companies in Australia are industry certified by StaffSure Certification through the RCSA, the peak body for the recruitment and staffing industries in Australia and New Zealand, and with NPAWorldwide for the latest recruitment developments.
Just some of the recent positions that have been filled through labour hire arrangements for the Food Processing Industry across the country include:
Truck trailer mechanics
Commercial spray painters
DO YOU WANT MORE VALUE FROM YOUR STAFF?
Businesses: TRS helps companies to create value through temporary and permanent staffing solutions. To understand how labour hire can bring value to your business, or to recruit new staff for the food processing and manufacturing industry today, contact us for recruitment online or phone us on 03 9349 2726.
Job seekers: Looking for a job in the manufacturing industry? We have a wide range of positions available right now, so click here to check out our Job Boards, submit your CV, and join our social media alerts.