Food Processing

Our thriving food-processing sector continues to advance companies throughout Northeast Indiana. Our steadily growing concentration of food and agriculture businesses represent nearly the entire food-delivery chain, giving companies located here—and those looking to move here—marked advantages. The industry here is diverse and well supported by an abundance of agricultural products and cost-effective, readily available natural resources.

Around the Region

From pickles to ice cream, Northeast Indiana is home to many connected and well-supported food-processing industries.

  • Our significant row crop and livestock operations exist to support major grain and processing firms.
  • We have a strong position in the dairy industry, including eggs, milk, and ice cream production. 
  • We specialize in snacks; our major specialty products include marshmallows, pretzels, cookies, and pickles, and fine chocolates are well established in the region. 
  • Our regional member counties are home to Maple Leaf Farms, the largest duck processor in the nation, and Red Gold, a major tomato processor.
  • 5-Hour Energy’s parent company, Living Essentials, opened a new $25 million facility in Wabash in 2012 and today employs more than 300. 
  • Gunthorp Farms is a family-owned business that specializes in pasture-raised pigs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys sold directly to the finest restaurants in Midwest cities, including Chicago; Detroit; Indianapolis; Bloomington, Indiana; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Agritourism, is growing—thanks to companies such as Joseph Decuis, known for farming the exclusive Wagyu beef—and is uniquely supported by a strong Amish population.
  • Food warehousing and distribution are also prevalent throughout Northeast Indiana.
  • We regularly collaborative with AgriNovus Indiana, the state’s agbiosciences initiative focused on advancing the sector as a nationally recognized leader in the development of new, innovative products and services. Specifically, AgriNovus Indiana focuses on the creation and support of new companies as well as branding and targeted promotions to elevate the sector in key areas such as plant science and crop protection, animal health and nutrition products, value-added human food and nutrition products, and agtech.

In addition to these thriving industries, Northeast Indiana Regional Food Network kicked off in 2015 to cultivate new and expand opportunities for existing businesses, nurture entrepreneurial growth, and expand quality of life assets.

“By operating our own plant and working directly with dairy COOPs in the Midwest, we’ll further reduce operating costs and pass those savings on to our customers so that they can save money,” said Tony Airoso, senior vice president of global food sourcing for Walmart. “This facility is an example of how we are always finding efficiencies within the supply chain to deliver everyday low prices and high-quality groceries.”

Agricultural Products

Northeast Indiana and the Fort Wayne area also boast an abundance of major agricultural products. These include:

Corn

  • Indiana is the fifth-largest corn-producing state. In 2012, there were more than 751,000 acres of corn harvested for grain in the 11-county Northeast Indiana region. POET Biorefining and Green Plains each operate ethanol plants in the region using this corn supply.

Soybeans

  • Indiana is the fourth-largest soybean-producing state. In 2012, there were more than 767,000 acres of soybeans harvested in Northeast Indiana. Bunge operates a large soybean-milling operation in Decatur.

Wheat

  • More than 60,000 acres of wheat were harvested for grain in Northeast Indiana in 2012. Star of the West operates a soft-wheat flour mill in Ligonier that supplies many of the region’s bread and snack-food operations.

Milk

  • In 2013, Indiana ranked as the 14th-largest milk-producing state in the nation and accounted for 1.9 percent of total U.S. milk production. Walmart, the nation's largest grocer, announced plans to build a large milk-processing plant in Fort Wayne. Walmart will build the 250,000-square-foot facility, which will help create more than 200 jobs by the end of 2017, is expected to be one of the largest in the nation.

Ice cream

  • Indiana is also ranked the No. 2 ice cream producer in the nation. Edy’s and Dean Foods both have ice cream plants in Northeast Indiana.

Source: USDA Census of Agriculture, 2012

Natural Resources

While there are many unique features of Northeast Indiana’s welcoming business landscape, one major asset is the region’s abundance of excess water capacity to support the needs of food-processing companies. If you’re looking for a place to relocate or plant your business, we also feature a large supply of certified shovel-ready industrial sites that have the infrastructure in place. The infrastructure includes:

  • Water and sewer capacity
  • Highway and rail access
  • Competitive electric and gas rates to support new food-processing projects

By the Numbers

Food Processing - Employment and Wages

Source: EMSI 2015.3 Class of Worker, QCEW

Food Processing - Major Employers

Source: Community Research Institute at IPFW

Want to know more about how Northeast Indiana can support your food-related business? Our business development team is where to meet your business’ needs. Contact our offices today for a consultation.

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