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Ian Smith

Ian Smith

Executive Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development

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A global leader in a growing market

A global leader in a growing market

Images credit: Mars Australia

Regional NSW is a significant producer of agricultural commodities and value-added food and beverage products, due to its highly productive farmland and diverse growing conditions.

The agribusiness and food sector in Regional NSW contributes A$17.2 billion to the state economy.

NSW’s agricultural sector (excluding food) is worth A$13.1 billion a year and employs 76,000 people.

The agrifood industry plays a key role in Regional NSW with around 40% of food processing businesses located in regional areas. 

There are 29,000 food and beverage manufacturing jobs in Regional NSW. 81% of NSW land mass is used for agriculture. NSW produces 52 kilotons of rice, 755 kilotons of cotton lint and seed, and 4,750 kilotons of wheat.

Regional NSW supplies agricultural commodities, food and beverages to the world’s largest and growing consumer markets in Asia, the Pacific Rim and Europe. Its counter-seasonality makes it an ideal supplier of fresh produce during the winter months in the northern hemisphere.

Regional NSW has a workforce experienced in agricultural production and processing, and established agribusiness transport, distribution and logistics infrastructure.

Australia’s excellent access to growing international markets through its Free Trade Agreements network ensures continued demand, driving future growth and expansion.

The Australian agriculture industry is estimated to require A$109.2 billion of overseas investment by 2025 to maintain its current share of world exports. Successful investment models include joint ventures and share farming, with local producers allied to overseas participants in the supply chain.

Main markets for Regional NSW's agricultural exports

Chart showing Top 10 export destinations 2018 to 2019

Chart showing Top 10 export destinations 2018 to 2019

Source: NSW Primary Industry Exports 2018-19, ‘NSW Primary Industries – Performance, Data and Insights 2019’, NSW Government, December 2019

Which commodities are produced in Regional NSW?

Which commodities are produced in Regional NSW?

Image credit: Department of Primary Industries

Regional NSW enjoys a diverse climate and geography which produces a wide range of goods:

  • Primary crops such as nuts, berries, other horticulture, grains, cotton, oilseeds and pulses

  • Primary livestock, particularly sheep, beef cattle, goats and poultry

  • Aquaculture, fishing and seaweed farming

  • Livestock product manufacturing

  • Processed food, olive oil and dairy

  • Beverage manufacturing, especially craft beer and spirits. 

Estimated Primary Industries Output 2018-19

Chart showing estimated primary industries outputs

Chart showing estimated primary industries outputs

Source: NSW Primary Industry Exports 2018-19, ‘NSW Primary Industries – Performance, Data and Insights 2019’, NSW Government, December 2019

An international reputation for food safety

An international reputation for food safety

Image credit: Destination NSW

Australia and NSW enjoy an international reputation for high food safety standards and clean, safe foods.

The NSW Food Authority administers a fully-integrated food safety system. Sound quarantine and environmental practices used throughout NSW keep production free from pests, diseases and contaminants.

Working together to create new opportunities

Working together to create new opportunities

Image credit: The Graham Centre

World-leading technology hubs and research facilities across NSW bring together industry, academia and government to commercialise new and innovative products and processes.

The NSW Government committed A$1.8 billion since 2015 to ensure NSW farmers and primary industries are supported to deliver through current drought conditions and future growth when situations improve in time.

The 2019-20 NSW Budget invests A$47 million over three years to boost agricultural productivity and support world class food and fibre production through upgrading the Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) research stations across NSW.

DPI is the largest agricultural R&D provider in Australia with expertise of over 600 researchers, and access to 25 research stations and 13,000 hectares of trial farms. NSW DPI scientists have been ranked in the top 1% of world research institutions in agricultural science and in plant and animal science.

In 2015, the DPI set an ambitious goal to achieve a 30% increase in the gross value of production of NSW primary industries by 2020. This ambitious target was reached two years ahead of schedule. In 2018/19 the NSW primary industries sector was worth a record A$11.9 billion.

Investors in Regional NSW can also benefit from a number of agriculture and food innovation precincts including:

  • Wagga Wagga’s agricultural technology hub which involves Agrifutures Australia, the Graham Centre and Charles Sturt University.
  • Orange’s Global Agri-Tech Ecosystem (GATE) which offers access to DPI expertise and networks as the largest agricultural R&D provider in Australia. GATE is an end-to-end ecosystem for project development from ideation, incubation, acceleration to investor funding and commercialisation. GATE has a cornerstone partnership with SparkLabsCultiv8 linked to Asia's premier accelerator SparkLabs in South Korea.
  • Central Coast Food Alliance joins The University of Newcastle and key industry players to collaborate on research projects relevant to the food and beverage industry. 


  • The estimated combined output of NSW broadacre cropping industries was A$2,498 million.
  • The summer cropping season commenced under a wide range of on-ground conditions. Drought conditions intensified, particularly to the west of the state.
  • Source: NSW Primary Industry Exports 2018-19, ‘NSW Primary Industries – Performance, Data and Insights 2019’


  • The estimated combined Output of NSW meat and livestock products was $6,733 million, up 4% year-on-year.
  • Output for livestock (meat) was $4,671 million, up 7% year-on-year, with beef cattle the main contributor by value.
  • Livestock products Output (milk, eggs and wool) was $2,062 million, down 3% year-on-year, with the main contributor by value being wool.
  • Source: NSW Primary Industry Exports 2018-19, ‘NSW Primary Industries – Performance, Data and Insights 2019’


  • A sophisticated processed food industry adds value to livestock and dairy produce. NSW is Australia’s second largest producer of dairy products, producing 1.1 billion litres of milk in 2017/18.
  • Its range of climatic conditions is wider than any other Australian dairy region and is a distinct advantage, guaranteeing milk supply during extreme weather.
  • In NSW, as raw milk production fell, processors competed more aggressively for supply, resulting in an estimated 9.7% rise in farmgate milk prices to 55.3 cents per litre during 2018–19.

Aquaculture and fishing

  • Regional NSW has a healthy aquaculture and fishing sector, with opportunities for export as well as servicing the domestic market.
  • DPI analysis estimated the value of the fishing industry during 2018-19 at $181.3 million.
  • The aquaculture sector continued to grow, up by an estimated 2.1%, complimented by an increase in the wild harvest sector of an estimated 2% year-on-year.

Food product manufacturing

  • Regional NSW is recognised as an advanced producer of high-quality food products.
  • Around 40% of food processing businesses in NSW are located in regional areas.
  • A growing middle class in the Asia-Pacific region provides exciting export growth potential in addition to supplying the domestic market. The food and beverage manufacturing sector contributed A$30.1 billion in sales and service income in 2016-17.

Wine and beverage manufacturing

  • Regional NSW produces some of the world’s best wines and a variety of other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, particularly in the Central Coast, Central West and Orana, Hunter, Riverina-Murray, and South East and Tablelands regions.
  • The wine industry contributes A$1.6 billion to the NSW economy.

Government support for agribusiness in Regional NSW

NSW has strong regulatory standards.

This ensures food and produce of very high quality, which is valued in Asian markets.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)'s Boorowa Agricultural Research Station in the South East & Tablelands region is a state-of-the-art agricultural research facility helping to develop Australian farms of the future by testing emerging technologies in crop science, agronomy and farming systems.

The Australian Government has also invested in the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre (Food Innovation Australia Ltd), which supports collaboration and innovation to grow the share of Australian food in the global marketplace.

For more details, visit the assistance page.

Major agribusiness companies that have already chosen Regional NSW

Success stories in the Regional NSW agribusiness sector

Get in touch

Ian Smith

Executive Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development
Office contacts
Suite 1, Level 1
47-59 Wingewarra Street
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