By Matthew Botos, Senior Advisor, Illinois Science & Technology Coalition

The state of Illinois has always been a hub for food innovation and technology, and it has a diverse food and agriculture industry supported by local farms, universities and businesses. Currently, Illinois has over 3,000 food-processing facilities, 76,000 farms, and thousands and thousands of retail/restaurant establishments. It contains headquarters for some of the largest food companies in the world, including PepsiCo, Kraft and Sara Lee, and also serves as home for premiere food laboratories, research institutions and trade groups like the USDA’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Northland Laboratories, and the Institute for Food Technologists. Today, food companies and their service providers are one of the largest employers in Illinois, creating a skilled workforce that will continue to grow and prosper in Illinois.

Food innovation starts at the farm where growers and their partners use technology to develop new farming techniques.  These techniques help the agricultural industry understand soil conditions and the most proficient ways to harvest crops. This innovation continues from the farm to the fork where transportation companies use the most efficient means to transport and store food to the consumer and the manufacturers.  Manufacturers use emerging technologies to process foods, thereby increasing their shelf life, taste profile and ease of accessibility to the consumer.  Manufacturers also continue to develop creative and inventive packaging that expands the range of choices at retail outlets for consumers.

The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition works with the food industry to develop strategies that improve technological and training resources for the Illinois food and agricultural industry.  The ISTC helps promote Illinois’ food and agribusiness assets both globally and locally. Through various partnerships with GTL Resources, the University of Illinois, the Illinois Institute of Technology and more, we help identify opportunities for industry, academia and government to work together by sharing resources and therefore creating jobs and advancing innovation.

In a global and local food economy the state of Illinois has a vast history of creating new venues for food and agriculture to prosper, grow and be creative. We welcome you to investigate some of the accomplishments happening in Illinois and provide us feedback on ways we can continue to assist Illinois food economy.

Did You Know?

For the last five years, Illinois has been the nation’s leading state in food innovation, with a total of 179 granted patents fertilizers, food and beverage apparatuses, and edible materials combined — all areas directly related to food innovation. This is the most out of any other state.

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IIT Institute for Food Safety and Health


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