This year’s Top 100 reflects financial reporting from calendar year 2020 and financial year 20/21 and as such, there is a dominant theme – Covid Data.

This year's report is sponsored by Foodmach. 

Some 2021 results clearly reflect the upside of people being at home, while others felt the brunt of people not being out and about. Trade tensions impacted two industries at disparate ends of the spectrum – wine and infant formula, the latter buffeted by pandemic disruptions even more than most.

Food and beverage is the largest manufacturing sector in Australia, accounting for more than 30 per cent – $133 billion – of total manufacturing output. It employs more than 275,000 people and around 40 per cent of those jobs are in regional Australia.

But those figures are not the full picture. The global food system is undergoing the fastest period of change experienced in generations and yet the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s (AFGC) Sustaining Australia: Food and Grocery Manufacturing 2030 report found that profitability has declined, and capital investment has stagnated over the past decade.

While the entire system of food production around the world is in hyperdrive, R&D spending in the sector in Australia has fallen in recent years to 2009/10 levels.

Over the past ten years, Australian food manufacturers’ input prices have increased by 49 per cent from 2010 to 2020, whereas output prices have only increased by 24 per cent in the same period.

The AFGC CEO Tanya Barden says growth is “contingent on significant investment to boost competitiveness, agility, and resilience”. It has, Barden says, the potential to become a $250 billion powerhouse by 2030.

The 100 companies that made the list this year in prime position to turn that potential into a reality, but they cannot do it alone. The federal government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy is a big and bold step in the right direction, the research and industry collaborations we see coming out of the Cooperative Research Centres is another area of great success, and the work being done by industry bodies to drive the agenda is more than commendable. But more needs to be done.

The AFGC’s State of the Industry report found only a 5.2 per cent increase in capital investment in 2019/20, nowhere near what is needed to reach the doubling of the industry as outlined in Modern Manufacturing Strategy Food and Beverage Roadmap.

This sounds a little moribund and perhaps it is, but just as those statistics I sprouted up there are not the whole picture, neither is the rundown above.

This sector is dynamic and resilient, always looking forward, adapting, and maturing. It is exciting and energising and while there are many challenges it contends with, it does so with determination and creativity.

The companies in the 2021 Top 100 are proof of that.

Again, not much movement in the Top 10, with the major exception being Asahi, which jumped eight places to #5 with a 76 per cent revenue increase due to its purchase of Carlton & United Breweries.

There were some other impressive revenue jumps, with Bega Cheese recording a 45 per cent increase after it incorporated Lion Dairy & Drinks into its business. And a plucky, privately owned Tasmanian aquaculture company Petuna made its first appearance on the list this year and was in the top five for revenue growth, growing 30 per cent to enter neatly at #100.

Sugar companies had a good year after quite a few pretty average ones. Two sugar companies featured: MSF Sugar (up 20 places to #65) and Mackay Sugar (up 14 places to #77) a reflection of the turnaround of a volatile market and also the fact that COVID-19 had us all at home baking more and eating all our feelings.

While there were climbers there were also some tumbles, MPD Dairy dropped 12 places from #64 to #74 and Moet Hennessy Australia fell 18 spots from #67 to #85. Seven companies all up experienced double-digit revenue falls, including Unilever (26 per cent), Bindaree Beef (29 per cent), NH Foods (18 per cent), Select Harvests (14 per cent), and KB Food (13 per cent).

Welcome to the Food & Drink Business Top 100 Food & Drink Companies 2021 report. 

Top 100: The Top Ten of 2021

Top 100: The fastest movers of 2021 

Top 100: The stand-out sectors in 2021 

Top 100: 2021's arrivals 

Top 100: The falls of 2021

Packaging News

In the first year of PKN’s Women in Packaging Awards programme, industry has stepped up with meaning. The response has been phenomenal, and the judges had their work cut out for them selecting the finalists from a competitive field of high-calibre nominees.

At The Hive Awards in Sydney today, the Best Packaging category was won by Don Smallgoods, part of George Weston Foods, for its resealable flow wrap pack for sandwich fillers and other smallgoods. This innovative packaging is a departure from the conventional thermoformed packs and addresses consumer demands for better functionality, sustainability, and product visibility.

Applications for the 2024 APCO Annual Awards are now open, and are open to all of industry to apply.