Where is Your Thanksgiving Meal Coming From: A Look at US Food Manufacturing

It’s that time of year again — family comes together, entertainment is in abundance, and food is shared. 

And speaking of food, the newest Food Manufacturing Industry Report lists the eight U.S. states that have the highest added value to the food manufacturing industry. So we took a look at the United States Department of Agriculture State Export Data for what exactly we can be thankful for. The results for each state are below. 


Statista Food Manufacturing Industry Report

Out of 50 states, California is the one you can be most thankful for. Shouldering over 10% of total value, it’s easy to see why. With more than $7.5 billion in exports of tree nuts alone, California is shipping out those nut mixes with almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and others that everyone is snacking on. However, being responsible for over 90% of the country's harvest, and also being a juggernaut in dairy, vegetable, and fruit exports, these numbers may change in 2016 post drought.   

North Carolina
If you’re in the South over the holidays, there is a chance you will be eating some BBQ. And if you’re eating some BBQ, then you have North Carolina to thank. Contributing over $739 million in pork in 2014, North Carolina is recovering from a slight dip from previous years. But as long as consumers are looking to bring home the bacon, North Carolina will be there to provide. And if worst comes to worst, Indiana and Minnesota will be more than happy to help.

After polling some former residents, the largest export of Virginia came as a surprise. Every respondent guessed pork and tobacco, and though they are highly ranked exports, they fall behind another product. A complete 180-degree turn from the unhealthier options, Virginia actually exports $146 million worth of soybean. But this is the tip of the U.S. soybean iceberg. As impressive as this is, it is dwarfed by the 1.6 billion of soy exports from Ohio and the $3.3 billion from Illinois. And, if you combine the three exports together, it still doesn’t account for the billions of dollars of soy exported by over half of the other states in the country. So for all the vegetarians, farmers, and fitness-focused consumers out there, you now know who to thank. We’re a soy nation, America.

On the other hand, the top export for Georgia shouldn’t surprise anyone. From every shirt you wear to every sheet you lay on, you can thank Georgia and its $688 million of exports in cotton. Though impressive, Georgia falls second to the $1.3 billion of cotton that came from Texas. And here I thought the top export from Texas would have been beef (it’s second), but it’s understandable when you’re a part of the South.

New York
Last but not least, New York falls eighth on the value added hierarchy, but brings a valuable component to the table. There is a chance that when you have your desserts post feast, you will be consuming some form of New York’s top export of dairy products. Exporting over $500 million worth of dairy products in the last year, New York falls in league with other states in this category like California and Wisconsin.

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