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.
The Wisconsin Economic Future Executive Summary: Overall State Economy (with Food Manufacturing Highlights) divides the state into seven regions.
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-base food companies have headquarter operations here.
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
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.