Focus, Food Service & Agriculture, and Manufacturing

Market value of West Michigan’s agricultural production estimated at $1.8 billion

West Michigan has more than 60 unique crops.

August 16, 2013
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Market value of West Michigan production valued at $1.8 billion

The total market value of West Michigan’s agricultural production is estimated to be $1.8 billion across all 13 counties.

That’s a fact that Tim Mroz, vice president of marketing and communications at The Right Place Inc., wishes more people knew.

“Since the recession, from 2009 to 2013, the food-processing job growth in West Michigan has grown 8 percent, which today is about 15,500 jobs across those 13 counties,” he said.

“In food processing, our location quotient compared to the nation is 1.986, which means we have almost double the food-processing talent in West Michigan than the national average.”

Last Friday, The Right Place’s Facebook page had a Focus Day for West Michigan’s agricultural and food processing industry. The Right Place research team revealed that West Michigan's agribusiness industry provides more than 26,000 jobs and $579 million in labor income.

Additionally, in West Michigan alone, there are more than 15,400 food processing jobs, with Snack Food Manufacturing at a 52 percent job growth and Retail Bakeries at 65 percent, making them the two fastest-growing food-processing industries in West Michigan, according to fact sheets released by The Right Place.

The main reason West Michigan has prosperous agriculture is because it sits next to the largest surface freshwater system on the planet — the Great Lakes, Mroz said, calling it Michigan’s “calling card” for food processing.

Although the Mitten State has the lakes in its favor, challenges still arise, he said. One such challenge is land use, Mroz said, both for food processing and land use for growing crops. As West Michigan continues to expand, the management and protection of agricultural land will be that much more critical.

“Every agriculture needs fresh sources that they can contribute to process foods. West Michigan has more than 60 unique crops that can feed area food processers,” he said. “As West Michigan expands and grows and develops more land, there needs to be a conscious effort to manage and protect some of the vital agricultural land that we have if we want to keep that $1.8 billion industry here.”

Highlights of The Right Place’s 13 county West Michigan agribusiness findings

$1.8 billion market value of agricultural production.

Home to the top Michigan counties for:

Total market value of agricultural production (Allegan, $398 million)

Total livestock sales (Allegan, $247 million)

Revenue from hogs and pigs (Allegan, $91 million)

Total acres of apples (Kent, 9,235 acres — No. 8 in U.S.)

Total number of hog and pig operations (Mecosta, 105)

Total acres of vegetables (Montcalm, 23,136 acres) and revenue from vegetables (Montcalm, $47 million)

Total acres of potatoes (Montcalm, 16,282 acres)

Total revenue from poultry and eggs (Ottawa, $80 million)

Total revenue from nursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod (Ottawa, $129 million)

Crop Production

High concentration, both compared to state and nation:

2.52 State Location Quotient

2.42 National Location Quotient

494,300 acres of corn planted in 2012, average yield 130.7 bushels

221,200 acres of soybeans planted in 2012, average yield 41.7 bushels

62,400 acres of wheat planted in 2012, average yield 64.3 bushes

Animal Production

14 percent job growth, 2009-2013

High concentration, both compared to state and nation:

2.80 State Location Quotient

2.90 National Location Quotient

327,100 cattle and calves (2013)

124,000 milk cows (2013)

Food Processing

15,467 jobs (2013)

8 percent job growth post-recession (2009-2013)

(Compare to 4 percent state industry job growth and -0.2 percent U.S. industry job growth.)

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