Meat processing and dairy product manufacturing are largest components of food sector sales

Pie chart showing food and beverage manufacturing sales, shipment values, and reveue by industry in 2021

Errata: On April 28, the Chart of Note from Wednesday, April 26, 2023 was revised to correct the 2021 total sales, shipment values, and revenue from food and beverage manufacturing plants. The chart source was also revised to correct the survey year. No other data were affected.

Food and beverage manufacturing plants transform raw food commodities into products for intermediate or final consumption by using labor, machinery, energy, and scientific knowledge. These plants accounted for nearly $1.019 trillion or 16.8 percent of sales, shipment values, and revenue from all U.S. manufacturing plants in 2021, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census’ Annual Survey of Manufactures. Meat processing is the largest industry group in food and beverage manufacturing, with 26.2 percent of sales in 2021. Meat processing includes livestock and poultry slaughter, processing, and rendering. Dairy product manufacturing, which ranges from fluid milk to frozen desserts, accounted for the second-most sales at 12.8 percent in 2021. Other important industry groups by sales include other foods (12.4 percent), beverages (11.3 percent), and grain and oilseeds (10.4 percent). Other foods include snack foods, coffee and tea, flavorings, and dressings. This chart appears in the Manufacturing section of the USDA, Economic Research Service topic page Processing & Marketing, updated March 2023.

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