The food and beverage industry is a large and important part of Chicagoland’s regional economy -- approximately 4,500 food and beverage companies call the region home, accounting for 130,000 employees and $32 billion in annual sales.
The Chicagoland area, one of the world’s top global cities and a hub for trade, leads the nation in packaged food and beverage sales, but also boasts a vibrant local food movement and a large number of entrepreneurial start-ups. Chicagoland’s Food and Beverage industry cluster is the second largest in the nation. Chicagoland is also at the forefront of developing technologies and business models to address new consumer expectations and evolving regulatory standards around the food and beverage industry. The region continues to be at the center of the food and beverage industry based on the deep knowledge in the region, skilled workforce, excellent transportation, outstanding academic institutions, plentiful resources, and proximity to agriculture. RW Ventures and the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) released a comprehensive analysis of the Chicagoland food cluster, Chicagoland FOOD - Seizing the Opportunity to Grow Chicagoland’s Food Industry. The report details the Chicagoland food cluster and its recent performance, highlights transformative trends in the local and national food industry, and lays the groundwork for a regional food cluster organization that will lead collaborative cluster efforts to support and grow local companies.