Five booming businesses

Looking for a growing industry in which to invest or seek work? We’ve found five that analysts and experts say are about to surge.


1. Fair Trade goods

Not many markets can point to 2000 per cent growth. That’s right: two thousand per cent.

But industry researcher IBISWorld says that’s the increase in domestic spending on Fair Trade goods since 2005.

The company says Australians will spend “$188.3 million on certified Fair Trade goods in 2010-11, which represents an increase from just $9.0 million five years ago.”

By 2015/2016 the company says that number will have grown to $676 million.

Cocoa and chocolate are the leading fair trade commodities, helped by the fact that Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate range and Nestle’s Kit Kat source cocoa from Fair Trade suppliers. Those big brands’ move to Fair Trade mean it accounts for 5.6 per cent of all chocolate sales in Australia in 2010-11, IBISWorld says.

Tea and textiles are both experiencing surging sales too, while Fair Trade coffee sales have clocked up sales of $64.9 million and risen 771 per cent in five years.

2. Biofuels for planes

Ethanol is appearing at more and more petrol bowsers as an additive that extends the world’s supplies of fossil fuels.

The CSIRO says a similar change could be coming to jet fuel. A recent report, Flight Path to Sustainable Aviation, says that Australia and New Zealand could grow 12,000 jobs in this industry.

Better still, the report says the fuel can be made without having to stop growing edible crops: crop stubble, forestry residues, municipal waste and algae are apparently suitable sources of jet biofuels.

The report also notes that there’s a lot of work to do before this idea can be realised, with “creation of a supportive market structure and supply chain” and “Development of refining plants” high on the list. Certification and independent verification of fuels will also be necessary.

But if these pieces can be made to fall into place, Australia and New Zealand could save $2billion a year on fuel imports, an opportunity of very decent size.

3. Bicycles

Would you believe that bikes represent a bigger opportunity than aviation biofuel?

IBISWorld says Australia’s bicycle industry will grow 17.2 per cent over the next five years and reach $3.2 billion in sales.

The news is not all good, however, for two reasons:

  1. Some of the growth is rebound: in 2005-2006 the industry clocked up $2.8 billion, but that dropped off after the GFC.
  2. $723.7million of the sales will go towards accessories, and that means Lycra. Lots of it. And given that cycling is becoming a prominent pastime among men in their 40s and 50s, that means MAMILS – middle aged men in Lycra. Not a pretty sight!

4. Finance, insurance and real estate

Hiring intentions are a good gauge of a hot industry, so we weren’t at all surprised when a survey from ManpowerGroup reported that 26 per cent of companies in the mining sector want to hire more staff.

But we were surprised that 28 per cent of businesses in the transport and utilities sector also plan to put on more workers – up 11 per cent from the group’s previous survey.

The biggest surprise of all? 29 per cent of employers in the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector want more people. And that level of demand has persisted for months, putting it ahead of mining as a people-hungry industry.

The mining sector’s reputation as skills-deprived may not be so deserved after all.

5. IT services

It’s hard to imagine a product or service that is not in some way underpinned by technology, so analyst firm Ovum’s prediction that “IT services spend within the Asia-Pacific region will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6 per cent during the next four years to hit $USD205 billion by 2015” is not startling.

The reason for the growth is that big business is spending again, after GFC-induced nervousness.

And the good news is that there are opportunities for locals.

“Many of the regional and local players continue to display strong growth in core areas of expertise and industry-specific offerings, especially in areas such as mining, financial services and telecommunications,” says the report’s author, Jens Butler, the Principal Analyst with Ovum’s IT Services team.

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