We hope you're hungry. There's a lot to take in.
Minnesota's leading food products sector sprouted in the state because the industry is rooted in our agricultural history. From farm to table, Minnesota is a food production and agriculture powerhouse.
Agricultural production and processing industries generate over $112 billion annually in total economic impact and support more than 431,000 jobs.
It started with a seed
Our agricultural economy
- Generated about $17 billion in agricultural sales in 2020.
- The highest valued commodities included corn, soybeans and hogs.
- Exports about $7.1 billion worth of goods annually.
- Ranks 5th in crops ($8.85 billion) and 5th in total agricultural production ($16.7 billion).
- Ranks 4th compared to other states in terms of total agricultural exports.
- 1st in sugar beets for processing
- 2nd in green peas for processing
- 2nd in dry beans for processing
- 2nd in sweet corn for processing
- 3rd in soybeans
- 3rd in spring wheat
- 3rd in sunflower
- 3rd in oats
- 4th in corn/canola
Source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Top Livestock Produced
- 1st in turkeys raised
- 2nd in hogs
- 5th in milk goats
- 7th in dairy cows
- 8th in milk
- 8th in cattle and calves
Our top export commodities include soybeans, corn, feed grains and processed feed, and pork.
A Leader in Food Innovation
Minnesota leads the nation in food patents per capita, is fourth in food-product-related patents per capita – and has long been at the forefront of research and innovation in agriculture, food production and food safety.
Minnesota is one of the top producers of food in the country. Three of the top 10 food companies in the U.S. by number of employees based here: General Mills (3,100), Cargill (3,000) and Hormel (1,000). Source Reference Solutions
- Headquarters for Fortune 500 food giants General Mills, CHS, Land O'Lakes, and Hormel
- Foreign-owned food companies with significant operations in Minnesota include Kerry, Ornua, and Agropur
Not surprisingly, Minnesota is home to some of the nation's largest agricultural, food production and distribution companies – many with a global reach. Among them:
- General Mills
- Hormel Foods
- Land O'Lakes
- Rosen's Diversified
- Jennie-O Turkey Store
- Seneca Foods Corporation
- Kraft Heinz Co.
- American Crystal Sugar
- Michaels Foods
A strong field of established firms in an industry often leads to a thriving startup market as well. Our startups succeed by meeting demand with product and distribution innovations.
A few examples of our creative startups who are growing each day:
- Bizzy Coffee: organic, cold-brew coffee
- Surly Brewing, Fulton, Lift Bridge, and Summit are but a few of Minnesota's 180+ craft breweries
- JonnyPops: all-natural frozen fruit confections
- Puris: non-GMO, organic pea protein, starch, and fiber
- Redhead Creamery: artisan cheeses
- Revol Greens, Living Green Farms: sustainable produce
- SnoPac: certified organic frozen fruits and vegetables
- WholeMe: healthy convenience foods
A Workforce Specialized in Food Production
- 4th in food and agricultural technicians
- Almost twice the concentration of food scientists and technologists as the national average (location quotient: 1.95)
Food and beverage manufacturing
Food and beverage manufacturing in the state has the most significant employment among all manufacturing industries, with 46,600 jobs in 2021. These industries pay $3.3 billion in earnings.
- 730 business establishments; nearly 50% are located in Greater Minnesota
- 46,600 employees statewide, ranking 11th nationally
- 5th in value of crops, with in-state suppliers for many product ingredients
- $2.2 billion in food and beverage products exported in 2021
Dairy Products and Companies
- General Mills, a Fortune 500 company, is a major producer of consumer dairy products, including Yoplait and Annie's yogurt.
- Schwan's, is on Forbes' list of largest private companies and started in-home food delivery services in 1952 delivering ice cream. It remains a prominent manufacturer and retailer of manufactured dairy products.
- Land O'Lakes, also a Fortune 500 company, ranks as the #1 retail butter brand in the United States.
- American Dairy Queen, headquartered in Minnesota, has over 6,000 locations in the U.S., Canada, and 20 other countries, through the DQ system of franchisees.
- Kraft Heinz completed a more than $100 million expansion of its New Ulm, Minn., cheese plant in 2017. The plant produces Velveeta, Kraft Deli Deluxe cheese slices and Handi-Snacks cheese and crackers.
Livestock Production, Animal Health and Research
Minnesota's strength in animal science is reflected in top rankings in livestock and livestock products nationwide. From animal feeds, to swine genetics, to robotic technologies for agricultural applications, animal science research institutions and companies thrive in Minnesota.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Agriculture Statistics Service, Minnesota ranks:
- 1st in turkeys raised
- 2nd in hogs
- 6th in red meat production
- 7th in milk cows inventory
- 8th in milk production
Minnesota is home to the Jennie-O Turkey Store, the largest turkey processor in the nation.
The University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine was ranked the tenth-best veterinary school in the country by U.S. News and World Report (2019).
Minnesota's post-secondary institutions grant hundreds of degrees in farm and ranch management and animal-related fields each year.
Minnesota Animal Science Companies
Our Animal Science Companies are global leaders in helping feed the people and animals of the world. They test, treat and research all manner of animal health and feed issues.
Research and Development
Minnesota's public and private facilities are at the forefront of research and development, addressing a wide variety of animal health and science concerns:
- Cargill Animal Nutrition Innovation Campus
- University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
- Agriculture Extension at the University of Minnesota fosters research related to poultry, swine, dairy, beef and other livestock
- Research and Outreach Centers at the University of Minnesota
- Our agricultural history and strong food industries provide a collaborative ecosystem fostering innovation through public-private partnerships, deep-bench academic and business expertise, and a growing number of business accelerators.
Minnesota's success in agriculture and food production is due to its amazing technology. From machinery to patent development, to IoT, the state is leader in Agriculture and Food technology.
Minnesota is a hotspot for agricultural machinery manufacturing. The national average for an area the size of Minnesota size is 1,139 employees, while there are 2,852 in the state, according to EMSI.
The state's agricultural manufacturing companies provide all machinery necessary farmers need to succeed.
Top Agricultural Companies Operating in Minnesota
- Bobcat Co: Excavators, Compact Tractors, Mowers
- Tafco Equipment Co: Steel truck bodies and level lifts
- AGCO: Tractors, harvesters, forage blowers, smart farming
- Herc U Lift Inc: Heavy construction equipment, lift trucks
- Agco Engineering Ctr: Engineering services
- Balzer Inc: Grain carts
- Harmony Enterprises Inc: Recycling balers
- Schlagel Inc: Handling equipment for grains, feeds and fertilizers
- Friesen's Inc: Food processing systems
- Miller Manufacturing Co: Equine, cattle, hog products
- Fast Manufacturing Inc: Fertilizer applications, sprayers
- PALS: Barn design, feed systems
Note: Companies with around $40 million or more in sales.
Source: Reference Solutions.
Minnesota agricultural entities are great innovators, registering a significant number of patents nationwide. Between 2010-2021, Minnesota ranked:
- 3rd in planting, sowing, fertilizing
- 4th in new plants or processes to obtain them
- 5th in accessories of agricultural machines
- 7th in processing of harvested products
- 8th on harvesting, mowing
Minnesota is embracing IoT to manage their farms. From radio frequency animal tracking systems to Ag Intelligent Solutions, the state's farms use technology to thrive. Examples of companies providing IoT technology to farmers in Minnesota and around the globe include:
- Geissler Corporation: Radio frequency animal tracking systems, cattle handling
- Land O'Lakes: AgTech platform built on Microsoft Azure to enable intelligent agriculture solutions
- Summit Envirosolutions: Smart groundwater monitoring and management to optimize water pumping and irrigation in a variety of settings
- New Boundary Technologies: Remote management of pumps, valves and irrigation systems to conserve water
- Rowbot: Robotics and automation to optimize planting and fertilizer application