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About the Industry

Wisconsin has well-documented agricultural and food and beverage manufacturing strength, with the highest concentration of makers located on the east side of the state, followed by makers located in west central Wisconsin. Fruit and vegetable preserving and specialty products, along with dairy product manufacturing, top the state’s overall driver industries.   

 


 
ABOUT THE SOUTHEAST REGION

         
>>View the Milwaukee Region Food Report  



The Milwaukee Region, and the food and beverage industry, are well poised for growth and innovation.  There are frequent reports of expansions and growing markets in the areas of food ingredients, functional foods, organics and locally grown/made food, and an increasing demand for high-quality, abundant water. The Milwaukee Region offers formidable strength in all these areas.

The region's diverse mix of food and beverage makers profits from their central location to US markets and access to the fresh waters of Lake Michigan, as well as a high-quality workforce, manufacturing know-how and statewide agricultural resources. The Milwaukee Region is home to more than 253 food and beverage manufacturers that employ nearly 15,000 workers with $590M in annual payroll.  Food and beverage production accounts for 9% of our overall manufacturing sector. Seven of the 11 largest food companies in the world have operations here. And 11 internally-based food companies have headquarter operations here. 

Long recognized for our outstanding beer and sausage, our Region offers significant concentrations of industry serving as world-class makers of everything from soy sauce to chocolate, to seasonings and syrups, to bakery and snacks, to dessert toppings and coffee, to enzymes and nutraceuticals, to flavors and fragrances. And most recently we've taken our agriculture to the streets, establishing the region as a leader in pioneering urban and community agriculture and aquaponics.

Eat, Drink and Be Prosperous

Southeastern Wisconsin grew up at the intersection of industry and agriculture. Fertile soil, inviting harbors, and a young, enterprising citizenry virtually guaranteed that Milwaukee and its neighbors would develop economies that blended ambition and innovation with strong ties to the land. That blend produced a vibrant food and beverage industry, one that has evolved through a series of well-defined stages without losing its central place in the region’s economy. 

From the largest shipper of wheat in the 1860's, to "cow country," a "capital of fine sausage," and the "beer capital to the world" in the late 1800's, to the world's largest producer of lactic acid enzymes and a recognized world water hub today. Food and beverage define our history and our future. 
 
Read more of historian John Gurda's, Eat, Drink, and Be Prosperous - A Short History of the Milwaukee Region's Food and Beverage Industry.
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