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Study: Ohio’s Food Industry Infrastructure And Innovation Can Play Vital Role In National Supply Chain, Food Shortage Issues

Ohio outpaces national average in agricultural R&D investment, engineers and food specialists; Pandemic and war in Ukraine highlight the importance of Ohio’s robust food industry

Tue Apr 05 2022

COLUMBUS, OH – As the national supply chain and food industries continue to see increased strain, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian attack on Ukraine, new research released today finds that Ohio’s food and agribusiness industry could be part of the solution.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology and JobsOhio, “Ohio’s Food Industry,” a series of four new white papers authored by TEConomy Partners, highlight that Ohio has been a leader in research and innovation in the food industry, which is a primary economic driver for the state.  This enables the food industry to be adaptable, flexible, and nimble to overcome the challenges it faces.

Employing nearly 126,000 people across the state and investing over $100 million in food-related research and development (R&D), Ohio’s food industry sectors include food and beverage machinery and packaging; food and beverage processing and manufacturing; and food and beverage wholesale and warehousing.

With a commitment to innovation, Ohio’s food industry performs 43% more R&D than the national average, and hires more high-skill workers to advance the sector. For instance, Ohio’s broad food packaging, processing, manufacturing, and distribution sector boasts 60% more engineers than the U.S. average, 40% more engineering technicians, and 38% more food scientists and technologists. 

“Innovation is the key to avoiding a repeat of the bare shelves from the supply chain shortages we saw during the pandemic,” said J.P. Nauseef, President and CEO of JobsOhio. “The reports show that Ohio is already out ahead, investing into the R&D needed and hiring more engineers and food scientists to accomplish tomorrow’s technological advancements for our state’s growing food and agribusiness.”

As the report highlights, innovation in the food industry is not just a matter of economic importance, but also an issue that is critical for the longevity and security of the nation. With Ohio remaining a primary supporter of the national supply chain, Ohio is a net exporter of food industry products, processing, packaging, and equipment, where export sales totaled $42.2 billion in 2020. Additional findings from the report include: 

  • $114 million in food-related R&D expenditures
  • 43% more food industry R&D than the nation
  • 1,207 patent records, including 580 issued patents
  • 60% more engineers than the U.S. average and 40% more engineering technicians, and
  • 38% more food scientists and technologists than the U.S. average, with growth outpacing the nation.

The report notes that Ohio’s end-to-end supply chain gives the state a distinct advantage in being part of the food system.

“Ohio is a major U.S. producer of corn, bean, and soft red winter wheat and home to a significant commodity processing sector,” said Tim Derickson, JobsOhio’s Senior Director of Food & Agribusiness.  “Before we even imagined that there would be an attack on Ukraine - which has led to wheat shortages - we were using innovative programs, like H2Ohio, to encourage sustainable farming practices.  This year alone, Ohio farmers increased by 20% the production of soft wheat, used for cookies and cakes.”

The new research also finds that innovation in the food industry will further insulate the longevity and security of the state’s supply chain. Researchers note that it is imperative that public policy be enacted, and public-private partnerships be developed that seek to strengthen the food industry sector to help ensure a sustainable future for Ohio. The four white papers cover:

  • Why the Food Industry Matters: A report on the high value of the food and agribusiness industry as a key economic driver.
  • State of the Industry: A critical review of the current and future realities of the industry.
  • Disruptive Technologies: An informative report on the technologies transforming the food and agribusiness industry.
  • Executive Summary: A high-level overview of Ohio’s burgeoning food and agribusiness sector.


About JobsOhio:

JobsOhio is a private nonprofit economic development corporation designed to drive job creation and new capital investment in Ohio through business attraction, retention, and expansion. The organization also works to seed talent production in its targeted industries and to attract talent to Ohio through Find Your Ohio. JobsOhio works with six regional partners across Ohio: Dayton Development Coalition,  Ohio Southeast Economic Development, One Columbus, REDI Cincinnati, Regional Growth Partnership and Team NEO. Learn more at Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

About the Center for Innovative Food Technology

The Center for Innovative Food Technology is a developer and provider of technical innovations and solutions for the food processing, agribusiness and agricultural sectors.

About TEConomy Partners, LLC

TEConomy Partners, LLC, is a global leader in research, analysis, and strategy for innovation-driven economic development. TEConomy is experienced in developing innovation/entrepreneurial ecosystems, and has worked with numerous regions and states to develop strategic action plans to generate results. The experts at TEConomy also work with clients to assess scientific and technological core competencies and develop strategic roadmaps that leverage science and technology assets. TEConomy extensively practices economic analytics and applies this expertise to in-depth economic and functional impact analysis for government, higher education institutions, academic medical centers, industry associations, and other client groups.

Media Contact
Matt Englehart

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