Australian Meat Processor Corporation

Australian Meat Processor Corporation

Where Might a Career in Red Meat Processing Take You?

Learn about how beef, lamb and goat meat get from the paddock to your plate.

  • Careers in the Australian Meat Processing Sector
    • Australian Meat Processors and Butchers are passionate about delivering top quality, safe and nutritious products to the market. 
    • The Australian Meat Processing sector is a world leader in processing beef, lamb and goat meat and processing plants employ the latest technologies to ensure superior levels of meat product. 
    • Australia has approximately 300 abattoirs (including boning rooms) with a workforce of around 34,000 people. The red meat processing industry is estimated to contribute just under $23 billion of value adding to the Australian economy. It includes flow-on impacts equivalent to 1.5 percent of Australia’s Gross industry through value adding and by generating 134,000 jobs equivalent to 1.4 percent of full-time equivalent (FTE) employment when flow-on effects are taken into account. 
    • The meat processing sector provides career opportunities in a range of areas including stock handling, slaughter floors, boning rooms, meat inspection, packing rooms, mechanics, fork lift driving, operating equipment, data entry, finance, administration, and human resources.
    • Staff at meat processing plants are trained in animal welfare, husbandry and handling, so that the safety and comfort of the livestock is maintained. 
    • Red Meat Processors trim and prepare the beef, sheep and goat carcases to specific standards. They grade the carcasses for colour, tenderness, fat, age, sex and bruising according to AUS-MEAT standards and weigh and brand each carcase. The weight is used to calculate how much farmers are paid. 
    • Meat Processors who work in abattoirs include Trimmers, Boners, Graders and Packers. A ‘Trimmer’ skins, cleans, trims, dresses, hangs and prepares the beef, lamb or goat carcasses to specific standards. Each carcass is cut in half and carefully chilled in the chiller room. The chiller room keeps the meat at the correct temperature to ensure the red meat is tender and fresh. 
    • After chilling, meat ‘Graders’, grade the beef, lamb and goat meat for colour, tenderness, fat, age, sex and any bruising on the meat. Each carcass is tagged by the ‘Graders’ to show the classification, the date of processing and the brand of meat, as well as the plant in which it was processed.
    • After chilling for at least 24 hours, the ‘Boners’ cut the beef, lamb and goat meat into different cuts of meat or prepare the carcasses to be sent to a butcher who will prepare the smaller cuts of meat. Meat ‘Packers’ pack the varying cuts of beef, lamb and goat meat ready for sale and delivery to local, regional, interstate and overseas customers.
    • Red meat products are transported from the processing plant to butchers, wholesalers, restaurants and supermarkets, in refrigerated trucks. There are Australian Standards that must be followed during transportation to make sure that the red meat is kept hygienic for people to eat.
    • Red meat for export markets is packed into large refrigerated containers and delivered to ports and airports for transport overseas. Stringent food safety standards are applied by the Quality Assurance teams to ensure the meat is hygienic to eat by consumers in Australia and overseas.
    • Australian meat processing plants also employ people in environmental monitoring, animal welfare, equipment maintenance, truck dispatching, cleaning, quality assurance, finance, procurement, office administration and human resource management.

    A number of other industries also provide services to the Australian meat processing industry. These include the:

    • Meat and livestock industry (farmers and primary producers)
    • Transport industry
    • Warehousing and distribution industry
    • Animal feed industry
    • Veterinary industry 
    • Graphic design industry
    • Packaging industry, and
    • Engineering industry.

    When a meat processor exports product overseas, a number of other industry sectors and their staff also provide services, including:

    • Health Inspectors
    • Road Transporters
    • Rail Transporters
    •  Aviation Transporters
    • Warehousing and Logistics
    • Procurement Officers
    • Transport Recording and Dispatch Clerks
    • Shipping Clerks
    • Truck Dispatchers
    • Container Loading Clerks
    • Distribution Clerks
    • Stevedores
    • Export Clerks
    • Freight Forwarders
    •  Custom Clearance Officers
    • E-Logistics Officers, and
    • Supply and Distribution Managers.

    Source: Heilbron, S.G. 2016. Evaluating the Socio-economic benefit of the red meat processing industry in regional Australia, pages 14 and 20. 

  • Careers in Meat Retailing
    • The Australian meat retailing sector offers career opportunities in independent butcher shops, meat departments in supermarkets and wholesale meat enterprises. The sector employs apprentice butchers as required.
    • Apprentice meat retailers are trained in selecting, cutting, trimming, preparing and displaying meat for sale. They are also trained how to value-add to meat products (by adding marinades, seasonings and pre-preparing some elements); providing advice to customers about how to prepare and cook different cuts of meat; display and present cuts of meat, market and advertise meat; and provide meat safety and nutritional information. Apprentices also gain experience in specialised techniques such as making mince, sausages, corned and smoked meats.
  • Smallgoods Manufacturing
    • The smallgoods sector provides career opportunities in the preparation and manufacture of a wide range of smallgoods products, laboratory work, machinery operation and management.
    • People working in the industry may work in areas such as operating production lines, smoking and drying meat, food safety, quality assurance, logistics, sales and marketing and finance.

    Source: MINTRAC 2016 Careers in the Australian Meat Industry (Brochure)

  • Food Services
    • The Food Services industry provides career opportunities in meat retailing shops, meat departments in supermarkets or in wholesale boning rooms in meat processing plants, which prepare bulk meat supplies for customers.
    • Apprentices learn about meat safety, hygiene and meat quality, preparing specialised cuts of meat, packaging techniques, in addition to providing nutritional and cooking advice to customers.

    Source: Mintrac. 2016 Careers in the Australian Meat Industry (Brochure)

  • Other Career Options

    A qualification as a Butcher or Small Goods maker can offer a number of other career pathways including:

    • Food Processing Technician
    • Food Technologist
    • Primary Products Inspector
    • Cook or Chef
    • Management and Quality Assurance.

    Source: FTH Skills Council. (2013) Career and Personal Learning Plan Information for the South Australian Meat Industry (Brochure)

  • MINTRAC Brochure

    Read the MINTRAC brochure about careers in the industry.

  • AMPC 2016 Scholarship Program

    Read the brochure and find out about the skills in science, technology, design and technology, engineering and mathematics needed in the red meat processing industry.

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