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“Food processing increases the value of Wisconsin agricultural products by about $12.6 billion a year. It provides processing and shipping jobs, and expands the range of uses for vegetables and other products produced by our farmers” according to Nick George, president of the Midwest Food Processors Association (MWFPA). “It’s an important step that bridges primary food production with the consumer to deliver nutritious and safe food products” he added.
Additionally, the food manufacturing industry offers a wide diversity of employment opportunities that allow a prospective employee to find a place no matter their career aspirations. Food manufacturing is a multi-faceted and technologically sophisticated industry and includes the fields of food safety, research and development, financial services, education, processing, agriculture, transportation and logistics, manufacturing and marketing to name a few. Many getting into the field get a degree in Food Science, but a degree is not always necessary. Most production jobs in food manufacturing, for instance, require little formal education or training.
“There are great long-term career opportunities available in the food manufacturing industry which will allow those going into the field to taste success” George explained.
Major food processors that are located in Wisconsin include Hormel, Kraft, Jennie-O Turkey Store, General Mills and McCain Foods. George noted that many people don’t know Wisconsin is home to the largest canning and freezing companies in the nation, including Seneca, Lakeside, Del Monte, Bush Brothers, Sugar Creek Vegetable Company and Bonduelle USA. In Southeast Wisconsin alone, seven of the world’s 11 largest food manufacturers have a presence in the region.
Through its production and distribution linkages, Wisconsin’s food manufacturing industry impacts firms in numerous sectors of the economy. Beyond raw materials, converted paper products, plastics and aluminum manufacturing are suppliers to the food processing industry primarily for labeling, packaging and containers. Wholesale trade and transportation companies in addition to business services are significant beneficiaries of food processing industry expenditures. Companies involved in food processing, along with their suppliers, distributors, retailers and ancillary industries provide a ripple effect on local economies throughout the state generating additional wages, taxes and consumer spending.
George says “The industry brings a lot of product diversity and economic stability wherever it locates.”
The food industry is extremely complex, scientifically and technologically advanced and incredibly relevant for Wisconsin residents. Food processors play a substantial role in supporting the state’s economy and the industry is diversifying the state’s economic base while creating jobs. Wisconsin food manufacturers are proud to join the celebration of October as “Manufacturing Month.”