Fast-Moving Consumer Goods

The challenge for suppliers and retailers of goods is to efficiently manage the continual movement of stock through the supply chain from producer to purchaser. Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) are those retail goods with a short shelf life, either as a result of high consumer demand or because the product deteriorates rapidly. Some FMCGs – such as meats, fruit and vegetables, dairy products and baked goods – are highly perishable. Other goods – such as alcohol, toiletries, pre-packaged foods, soft drinks and cleaning products – have high turnover rates.

The work

There are varied roles for graduates in the FMCGs sector. Opportunities exist in business management and strategy, including advertising, sales, marketing and finance roles, as well as in logistics areas, such as production, transport, distribution and wholesale and retail.

Large firms selling FMCGs in Australia recruit graduates from a range of disciplines, particularly Business, Commerce, Marketing and Food science. There is increasing demand for Information Technology and Information Systems graduates because of the intensive management required to oversee the very high volume of transactions and ensure tight control of sales and stock.

The importance of supply chain management in this sector means there are also good opportunities for Business and Commerce graduates who can apply their knowledge of inventory and supply management to formulating logistical solutions. Some universities are now offering specialised postgraduate qualifications in logistics and supply chain.

The FMCGs sector in Australia is expected to expand in the next decade as consumers show increasing preference for minimally processed foods.

In order to source talented graduates, companies are competing by offering flexible working arrangements, challenging roles and quality leadership and management programs.

What you need

  • Business, Commerce or generalist degrees recommended (sales and management roles)
  • Food technologist roles require a science degree with a major in food science and technology; biochemistry, chemistry and microbiology graduates may also be employed as food technologists
  • An awareness of brands, consumer tastes and trends, buying patterns and demographic changes
  • Ability to monitor inventory, market research and control of the supply chain
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • IT skills
  • Driver’s license recommended (sales roles)

Graduate salary ranges for selected relevant occupations are as follows:

  • Import/export/wholesale manager: $28,000–$50,000
  • Purchasing/supply logistics clerk: $32,000–$50,000
  • Supply/distribution manager: $38,000–$70,000

(Figures are taken from the Australian Graduate Survey 2008, GCA. Ranges refer to the middle 50 per cent of salaries for bachelor degree graduates with permanent residency, in full-time employment in Australia October 2007 to April 2008.)

Industry at a glance

  • 93,000 purchasing and supply logistics clerks, 2008
  • 47 years median age (import, export and wholesale)
  • Declining outlook (2.3% p.a. decline: pharmaceuticals and toiletries wholesale, 2010–14)