Food and Beverage Factory Worker
Kaimahi Tohitū Whakanao Kai/Inu
Food and beverage factory workers prepare ingredients, operate machinery, and bottle or package food and drink.
Food and beverage factory workers usually earn
$18-$25 per hour
Source: PayScale and Trade Me Jobs, 2018.
Pay for food and beverage factory workers varies depending on experience.
- Food and beverage factory workers usually start on the minimum wage.
- Workers with one to two years' experience usually earn between $19 and $20 an hour.
- Food and beverage factory supervisors can earn up to $25 an hour.
Sources: PayScale, 2018; and Trade Me Jobs, 2018.
- PAYE.net.nz website – use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Food and beverage factory workers may do some or all of the following:
- measure, mix and cook ingredients
- peel and slice food
- control the temperature and automated processes for making products
- check the quality of the product and record results during the production process
- operate and maintain machines
- inspect and pack the final product
- clean and sterilise the factory processing area.
Skills and knowledge
Food and beverage factory workers need to have knowledge of:
- the product being made or processed
- safety and hygiene regulations
- practical skills to operate machinery.
Food and beverage factory workers:
- may work overtime and do shift work
- work in factories
- usually work on their feet, and in conditions that may be noisy, wet, slippery, hot or cold.
What's the job really like?
Food and beverage factory worker video
Jordyn checks out life as a production worker for Frucor – 1.08 mins. (Video courtesy of Just the Job)
Clinton: Jordyn will learn everything about the role that production line team leader, Mark Connolly, knows only too well. He started his career as a production worker nearly ten years earlier, and has progressed into his leadership role with the aid of continuous on-job training and experience.
Mark: How’re ya going?
Jordyn: I’m good.
Mark: So you want to be a production worker?
Mark: Ok, we’ve got some great things lined up for you today. Let’s go and have a look eh?
Clinton: Production workers in the food and beverage industry prepare ingredients, operate machinery and bottle and package products…
Clinton: …but before we charge onto the production floor Jordyn is suited up with important safety gear and hygiene equipment, because she is making food products, hygiene is critical.
Mark: Ok, let’s go, let’s get into it!
Clinton: Today Jordyn will be producing V energy drink and the Production Floor is a remarkable new world for her, but she already has skills of her own to drop into the mix.
Mark: So we’re going to start weighing up the dry goods Have you ever baked a cake before?
Mark: So you’ve done some weighing up at home and that sort of stuff?
Jordyn: A little bit.
Mark: Awesome, so you won’t have a problem with this.
Mark: So first up, dry acidic acid. So we need kg.
Clinton: Weighing out of dry ingredients is an important part of the process. If an ingredient is weighed incorrectly, or a wrong ingredient used, a whole batch of product could be lost. Accuracy is really important for a consistent consumable product…
Clinton: …so, the process has begun but there’s a lot more to this drink than Jordyn realises.
Mark: So you haven’t just got these to put in it, you’ve got all this lot.
Jordyn: You mean all of this?
Mark: All of that!
Jordyn: Has to go in there?
Mark: So we’ll put our water in…
Mark: …so turn that.
Jordyn: This is very heavy, but I’m doing it. It’s quite fun but a bit nerve-wracking at the same time. It’s really cool.
Mark: Ok Jordyn, it’s a bit too much for you to do, all these pallets so I might get one of the batch-makers to give you a hand, eh?
Jordyn: I agree!
Mark: So now all that’s left to do is put in the liquid sugar.
Mark: At Frucor we’ve always thought that if you come in with the right attitude and you’re willing to learn, you will succeed within the business.
Mark: And this is all made up.
Clinton: This tank holds up to 400,000 litres.
Jordyn: Is that like a million cans?
Mark: Yeah, something like that.
Mark: Ok, we’ve got our empty cans here, we’ve made up the batch, we’re ready to fill, so we’re going to fill these up and it’s going to be packaged. Awesome.
Clinton: With cans being filled every minute, it’s important Jordyn does a quality check on the can itself.
Frucor worker: Hi Jordyn! We’re just going to open it up, pour it out…
Frucor worker: Now we’re actually going to cut it, and have a look how the actual seems are and have a look how the lid is sitting on top of the can.
Frucor worker: Yep.
Frucor worker: Oh that is beautiful!
Frucor worker: You want to line it up in the middle
Frucor worker: Ok, if you have a feel, you’ll see a picture show up on your screen.
Clinton: A microscope shows clearly how the lid is attached and automatically detects any problems.
Clinton: The lids are perfect, but for Jordyn and Mark, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Mark: Ok Jordyn, we’ve got our standard here, and we’ve also got our sample off the line – the one that you batched – so we’re going to do a juice testing on that and see what it tastes like.
Clinton: Even with all the automatic machines, tasting is done by people because people will be drinking the finished product.
Jordyn: So what are we tasting for?
Mark: First of all we’re going to have a look at the appearance and seeing if the standards and the sample look the same in colour.
Mark: Secondly, we smell the odour, and thirdly we’re going to taste it – we’re going to taste the carbonation. Give it a bit of a swirl around in your mouth, just to get those flavours, all those notes.
Jordyn: This one tastes slightly different.
Mark: Ok, what sort of notes is it giving?
Jordyn: Um, I think it might be sweeter.
Mark: A little bit sweeter?
Jordyn: Just a little bit. I think the standard had more carbonate in it.
Mark: Yep, yep. Ok, so we’ll make a note of that.
Mark: So, is it acceptable for packing?
Clinton: That’s a big call from Jordyn, but what does the expert reckon.
Mark: I’ll tell you what Jordyn, you’re bang on, because I’ve got to totally agree with you. So well done on that.
Clinton: Tasting is part of the overall training for people within the Food and Beverage manufacturing industry. Most companies like Frucor give training on-the-job to advance their employees skills and have people like Phillip Penhale who help support staff throughout their training.
Phillip: What we’re looking for in people for Frucor is people that have got an attitude where they want to grow, they want to develop, they are willing to change and wanting to change things.
Mark: I personally like to see the workers on the floor develop and taking ownership of their work areas and we’re seen that through all the training that we’ve put through so they’re coming up with improvement ideas, they’re’ getting involved in team meetings, they’re making decisions on the floor.
Clinton: With the quality of the batch assured it’s packaging time.
Frucor worker: Push start, finish, ready to go.
Mark: So Jordyn, after all that, that’s our finished product. Choice eh?
Jordyn: Well done Jordyn!
Clinton: Jordyn will leave this world behind for now and let the robots take over. So how did Jordyn do?
Mark: Yeah it would be nice to have Jordyn on board. I think she’s come on with the right attitude, and she’s willing to give anything a go. I think she’ll give anything a go.
Jordyn: I think it was more than I thought it would be. The huge machinery around, even like the whole scientific thing. I definitely want to do this job.
Clinton: While there are no required qualifications to enter a career as a production worker, good communication skills and an understanding of maths are needed. But it’s your motivation to develop your skills that’s really essential. You’ll need to be excited about ongoing learning, as training is given on the job and is linked to NZQA qualifications to cover the skills and knowledge needed by people in a manufacturing environment. The National Certificate in Competitive Manufacturing starts entry-level production workers on a training pathway for careers in this industry. With more experience, and ongoing training, you can progress to the National Certificate in Competitive Manufacturing needed by Team Leaders like Mark, with opportunities to obtain a diploma in Competitive Manufacturing.
There are no specific requirements to become a food and beverage factory worker. However, some employers may require you to have a driver's licence and pass a pre-employment drug test.
Food and beverage factory workers may complete a New Zealand Certificate in Food and Beverage Processing (Level 2 or 3) while working.
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a food and beverage factory worker. However, English, maths and processing technologies are useful.
Food and beverage factory workers need to be:
- accurate and careful, with good attention to detail
- able to work at a fast pace
- good at maths
- responsible and able to make good judgements
- good team workers
- good at communicating
- able to follow instructions.
Useful experience for food and beverage factory workers includes:
- supermarket and restaurant work
- factory work
- bakery work
- brewery work
- manufacturing work.
Food and beverage factory workers need to be reasonably fit and strong as they can spend long periods on their feet and may need to do heavy lifting.
A high standard of personal cleanliness and good hand-eye co-ordination are also important.
Find out more about training
- 0800 526 1800 - www.competenz.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Food and beverage factory work popular
Job opportunities for food and beverage factory workers are average.
There has been an increase in vacancies over the last five years due to higher demand for food and beverages locally and for export. However, vacancies fill quickly because the flexible working hours and low entry requirements make it a popular job.
There are more opportunities for food and beverage factory workers in Auckland, the Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Hawke's Bay and Waikato.
According to Competenz, around 30,000 people work in the food and beverage manufacturing industry in New Zealand.
Seasonal opportunities for food and beverage factory workers
Food and beverage factories often employ more staff over spring and summer so your chances of securing a job are better then.
Hospitality experience increases job chances
Experience handling food and drink in fast food restaurants or cafes and cleaning work in the hospitality industry both improve your chances of employment.
Types of employers varied
Food and beverage factory workers may work in:
- breweries and vineyards
- small businesses
- small or large factories
- large bakeries
- milk processing factories (dairies)
- flour processing plants (mills).
- Competenz website, accessed September 2018, (www.competenz.org.nz).
- John, S, HR business partner, The Kraft Heinz Company, careers.govt.nz interview, September 2018.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Beyond Commodities: Manufacturing in the Future 2018', 2018,(www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Investors Guide to the New Zealand Beverages Industry 2017', June 2017, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Primary Industries, 'Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries March 2017', March 2017, (www.mpi.govt.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Food and beverage factory workers may progress into supervisory roles on the factory floor or move into management roles such as production manager.
Food and beverage factory workers may specialise in:
- blending drinks
- machine setting
- brewing beer
- bottling wine
- milling flour
- quality control.
Last updated 30 March 2019