Food & beverage processing is a significant U.S. industry as each year: Americans spend more than $1 trillion on food & beverages. Food & beverage processing is the third largest manufacturing sector in Oregon with more than 100,000 employees and an annual revenue of $21 billion. Food manufacturing includes bakeries, dairies, produce, meats and beverages as well as farm production, packaging, transporting and warehousing.
A new trend in food processing is craft food. Craft food is produced on a smaller scale and generally emphasizes locally sourced ingredients. The growth in craft food has been propelled by younger generations’ interest in supporting local businesses and supporting businesses that focus on sustainability. Along the Oregon Coast, craft food can be found in local breweries (Oregon was once the hops capital of the world), cheese production, coffee roasters, chocolates and bakeries.
Florence is poised to benefit from the regional growth of this industry. The City is preparing a new workforce to capture this opportunity through the culinary programs in Florence high school and Lane Community College. Nearby, Oregon State University runs the Food Science and Technology Program. Its Fermentation Science program, one of just a handful in the nation, is a “hands-on” applied science to learn the use of microorganisms as processing agents in the production a variety of fermented foods such as wine, beer, cheese, yogurt, soy sauce, breads and fermented vegetables.
Florence welcomes the opportunity to grow these companies that can flourish with regional support through programs such as Marketplace@Sprout, that sources locally produced foods for its marketplace, café and workshops.