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TABLE 6-1 Value of Shipments by the U.S. Food Manufacturing Industry in 2006

Type of Shipment

Value (billions of U.S. dollars)





Other food


Grain and oilseed milling


Fruit, vegetable, and specialty food


Bakeries and tortilla


Sugar and confectionery




SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce Processed Food Outlook, 2008. Available online: (accessed July 20, 2009).

small number of large manufacturing plants. Large plants (100 or more employees) comprised only 12 percent of all processing plants in 2005, yet produced 77 percent of products by value. Small plants (1–19 employees) comprised 69 percent of all plants in 2005, while producing only 4 percent of products by value.3 Further, the size of the domestic manufacturing system does not provide a complete picture because substantial amounts of the food sold for consumption in the United States are processed overseas. In 2007, more than $60 billion in consumer-ready processed foods were imported, an increase from approximately $30 billion in 1998. Canada, the European Union, Mexico, and China were the top four exporters of these products (Brooks et al., 2009). In addition, many ingredients for foods processed in the United States are imported.4

Table 6-2 lists the top 20 food processors in the United States and Canada on the basis of food sales in 2008. The top food manufacturers in the United States are multinationals that create and sell a variety of products under numerous national brand names. National brands are typically those that are well known and advertised, and most have strong customer loyalty.5 In addition to large multinationals, thousands of small- and medium-sized companies make products that are sold nationally or regionally. For example, it is estimated that the average supermarket stocks products from more than 16,000 food processing companies (Harris et al., 2002), many of which produce far fewer products than large multinationals. Both large


Available online: (accessed August 1, 2009).


Available online: (accessed November 11, 2009).


Available online: (accessed October 12, 2009).

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