Food & Agriculture

In Northeast Indiana, 78% of the region’s total land area is made up of rich farmland, making it a prime location for food and agriculture companies like Miller Poultry, Living Essentials, Maple Leaf Farms, Edy’s Grand Ice Cream and Kraft Heinz. Northeast Indiana’s food and agriculture industry accounts for more than 14,000 regional jobs (8% above the national average), represents nearly the entire food-delivery chain and contributes $31.2 billion to the state’s annual gross domestic product (GDP). Northeast Indiana alone produces $2 billion in farm products annually. Indiana is one of the top five states in the nation for corn, soybean and ice cream production, and boasts a total value of $10 billion for crops and livestock sold.

The momentum in the industry is exponential, with the food manufacturing sector displaying a 22% increase in establishments within food manufacturing from 2016-2019. As the industry continues to grow, so do the state and regional industry investments. The state and region are working collaboratively to develop and fuel the industry through initiatives like AgriNovus Indiana, a statewide initiative to fuel growth in Indiana’s agbioscience economy through talent development, entrepreneurship and business investment. With access to robust land and competitive electric and gas rates, the opportunities for industry growth are endless.

Top Facts about the Food and Agriculture Industry in Northeast Indiana

  1. Indiana generates $10 billion in crop and livestock revenue per year.
  2. Indiana is one of the top five states in the nation for corn, soybean and ice cream production.
  3. Indiana saw a 22% increase in food manufacturing establishments from 2016-2019.
  4. The food and agriculture industry contributes $31 billion to the state’s annual gross domestic product.
  5. Indiana is one of the top five states in the nation for corn, soybean and ice cream production. Indiana is also nationally ranked as:
    • #1 in Duck Production
    • #2 in Popcorn and Egg Layers
    • #3 in Spearmint, Tomato and Egg Production

Food and Agriculture Talent

  1. Worldwide, Purdue University ranks #9 for its agriculture and forestry programs and 15th for university-issued patents.
  2. Regional universities have extensive Agribusiness, Agricultural Education, Animal Science and Crop Science and Agronomy programs.

Business Climate

  • 80% of the U.S. population is within a 24-hour drive. I-80, I-90 and I-69 run through the region and I-65, I-70 and I-74 are within a two-hour drive.
  • Indiana is home to AgriNovus Indiana, an organization focused on establishing Indiana as the nation’s agbioscience hub.

Investments in Food + Agriculture

  • Walmart established its first U.S. dairy processing facility in Northeast Indiana, with a $175 million investment
  • Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream plans to invest over $145 million in an expansion of its Fort Wayne production facility, anticipating up to 145 additional jobs by the end of 2024.

“Companies are seeking to create resiliency in supply chains and get closer to customers and suppliers. Northeast Indiana’s proven strength in agriculture, food manufacturing and advanced manufacturing position it well to compete for business.” – Mitch Frazier, president of AgriNovus.

Food and Agriculture

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Interested in learning more about Northeast Indiana's Food and Agriculture industry? Contact us for access to more data and to discuss opportunities and incentives our region offers.

Company Product
Miller Poultry Poultry Processing
Living Essentials Energy Drinks
Edy’s Grand Ice Cream Ice Cream and other Frozen Treats
Mullinix Thermoformed Plastic Packaging
Maple Leaf Farms Chicken and Duck Processing
D&W Fine Pack, Inc. Plastic Food Packaging
Creighton Brothers Chicken Eggs
Bunge Oilseed Processing, Milling, Distribution, Sugar and Bioenergy
Red Gold Tomato Preserving and Canning
Dean Foods Dairy Provider

Source: Development Counsellors International (DCI), 2021


Occupation 2020 NEI Employment 2020 NEI Median Annual Wages 2020 National Median Annual Wages NEI/US
Laborers and Freight, Stock and Material Movers 9,793 $28,633 $29,495 97.1%
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers 6,732 $42,337 $45,108 93.9%
General and Operations Managers 5,753 $85,323 $100,371 85.0%
Maintenance and Repair Workers, General 5,000 $43,428 $39,030 111.3%
Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Except Technical and Scientific Products 4,271 $58,721 $59,510 98.7%
First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers 4,341 $57,296 $61,099 93.8%
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers and Weighers 3,215 $39,531 $39,198 100.8%
Shipping, Receiving and Inventory Clerks 2,771 $34,040 $34,179 99.6%
Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators 2,457 $32,684 $36,178 90.3%
Industrial Machinery Mechanics 1,376 $47,758 $53,472 89.3%

Source: Emsi 2020

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.
  • Northeast Indiana is 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.
  • 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 collaborate 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 cultivates opportunities for new and existing businesses, nurtures entrepreneurial growth, and enhances the quality of life in the region.

Agricultural Products

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


  • Indiana is ranked No. 5 in the nation for its corn production.
  • POET Biorefining and Green Plains each operate ethanol plants in the region using this corn supply.


  • Indiana is ranked No. 5 in the nation for its soybean production.
  • Bunge operates a large soybean-milling operation in Decatur.


  • Star of the West operates a soft-wheat flour mill in Ligonier that supplies many of the region’s bread and snack-food operations.


  • Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest grocer, operates a 250,000-square-foot facility milk-processing plant in Fort Wayne.

Ice Cream

  • Indiana is also ranked the No. 5 ice cream producer in the nation, with Edy’s operating in Northeast Indiana.

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

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