When people around the world eat chocolate this Valentine’s Day, they will support one of New York City’s most important manufacturing sectors, according to a study released today. "More Than A Link In The Food Chain," a study commissioned by the Mayor’s Office for Industrial & Manufacturing Businesses and conducted by the New York Industrial Retention Network (NYIRN), found food production to be one of the City’s most robust manufacturing sectors, with 900 local food manufacturers supporting jobs for 33,800 New Yorkers and resulting in $5 billion in sales annually. Chocolate is the City’s biggest specialty food export, with an estimated $234 million of locally-produced chocolate sold outside the city and $22 million sold inside the city annually.
"Everyone knows that New York City is an exporter of ideas and services — but we’re also an exporter of tangible, high value-added products that take advantage of our outstanding industrial labor force," said Carl Hum, Director of the Mayor’s Office for Industrial & Manufacturing Businesses. "Each year the City produces more than a quarter of a billion dollars in chocolate alone!"
In addition to chocolate, the local food manufacturing sector produces a wide variety of products, including fresh breads, spices, meats, dairy products, preserved fruits, condiments, ethnic specialties, prepared foods and beverages. Over a third of the food manufactured in the City is exported, and nearly three quarters of exported foods consist of higher-value specialty foods, such as chocolate, spices and gourmet jams.
"New York is a natural incubator for new food products and businesses for two reasons," said Adam Friedman, Executive Director of NYIRN. "First, people from 148 countries have immigrated to New York. Each of those communities creates a submarket which nurtures new businesses that make specialty food products. Second, the sheer size of the market and the density, affluence and sophistication of New York consumers drive the industry to create the best food products possible. NYIRN’s food services are intended to help companies to grow and create jobs by expanding into regional and national markets."
The "More Than a Link in the Food Chain" study found that food manufacturing firms create an important and difficult-to-replicate source of employment and entrepreneurial opportunity for individuals who have limited education or English skills. Some 70 percent of New Yorkers employed in the sector are immigrants, and 64 percent have a high school degree or less education. Average annual wages in the sector are $32,000, which is $6,000 higher than average wages for service workers in the restaurant industry.
The full report is available at nyc.gov/industrial.
About the Mayor’s Office for Industrial & Manufacturing Businesses
The Mayor’s Office for Industrial & Manufacturing Businesses coordinates the City’s industrial policy, including conducting research on trends in the City's industrial economy. It also works with the Department of Small Business Services to provide direct assistance to industrial firms opening, doing business, or expanding in the City.
About the New York Industrial Retention Network
NYIRN is a citywide economic development organization established to strengthen the manufacturing sector and save manufacturing jobs. NYIRN provides services to 400-500 companies each year, such as helping them find space, reduce energy consumption, and apply for City and State programs.