“The reason I’ve been so impressed by the workforce available in the Boise Valley is that they have a strong desire to do things right, a strong desire to achieve and to be part of something bigger than just a job.” Learn more.>>
Food Processing and Agribusiness
While Idaho may be synonymous with potatoes, the Boise Valley's sunny climate, warm days and abundant irrigation have made it a center for the food and agriculture industries. Over the last 100 years, led by such pioneers as the legendary J. R. Simplot, Idaho’s long tradition of farming has been transformed from a simple way of life into a major economic force in the Boise Valley.
In fact, agriculture today is the single biggest contributor to Idaho’s economic base, accounting for 20 percent of the gross state product. And far from its reputation for “famous potatoes,” food and agriculture in Idaho – the Boise Valley in particular – are extremely diversified, producing numerous varieties of crops and seeds, dairy products, cattle and livestock – and yes, even award-winning wines.
Click the picture to the left to download our Food-Processing and Agri-Business brochure. Learn more about why Boise Valley is a perfect fit for companies in these industries.
Idaho's Power Costs? Over the last seven years, Idaho Power's industrial rates have been 40% less than the national average. Commercial rates are the lowest in the country. Recently, Food and Drink Magazine highlighted how Idaho Power's efficiency incentives improved a dairy maker's bottom line to help them meet sustainability goals. Click here to read more.
Idaho Food and Agribusiness QuickFacts:
- #1 producer of potatoes, supplying 29 percent of the U.S. market
- #1 producer of food-size trout (12 inches or longer), supplying 72 percent of the U.S. market
- #2 in the production of peas and barley
- #3 for total cheese and milk production in the U.S.
- #3 producer of hops, hay, sugar beets, mint, as well as fresh plums and prunes
- Livestock cash receipts increased 29 percent in 2010, to $3.23 billion
- Idaho’s dairy industry employs nearly 23,000 individuals
- Food and Agribusiness industry in Idaho has grown from $73 million in 1970 to $1.43 billion in 2009
Bill Whitacre, President and CEO
J.R. Simplot Company
I didn’t really fully appreciate what agriculture was about until I got into this high value, irrigated land and production practices in the West. When I got here I thought I’d found Nirvana because of the opportunities that we have that are unique to most places in the world.” Read on.>>
J. R. Simplot Company
The J. R. Simplot Company is a privately held food and agribusiness corporation based in Boise, Idaho, with more than 10,000 employees worldwide. Annual sales exceed $3 billion. The company has grown into a global food and agribusiness conglomerate with products sold in every state and many foreign countries. Simplot produces products for professional foodservice operations and consumers. Among their products are frozen potatoes, avocado products, premium select fruits and vegetables, and specialty foods.
Lactalis American Group
Lactalis American Group is the U.S. holding company of Group Lactalis, the world leader in dairy products. The Lactalis Nampa plant employs more than 600 Idahoans and produces cheese and whey product with milk sourced 100% from local dairies in Idaho. Lactalis has invested nearly $200 million and nearly tripled the number of employees since they acquired the plant in 1999 from J.R. Simplot Company.
Great American Appetizers
Great American Appetizers has been providing premium appetizers to the foodservice trade since 1959, offering a complete selection of frozen appetizer products from their manufacturing locations in Nampa, Idaho. Great American Appetizer’s 200 employees specialize in manufacturing proprietary, custom-made products serving the nation's finest regional and national restaurant chains.
In 1994, PowerBar opened its first state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Boise. Founded in 1986, PowerBar would go on to be purchased by Nestle in 1999. Today, the Boise location continues to serve as a manufacturing plant, as well as a distribution facility for PowerBar products.
In 1945, Ruth Bigelow created "Constant Comment" tea, and the Bigelow Tea company was born. In 1983, Bigelow Tea opened a 60,000 sq. ft. production facility in Boise that produces many of the company's signature specialty teas, and has a veteran workforce with an average tenure of over 12 years.
Land O'Lakes is a national, farmer-owned food cooperative that does business in all 50 states and 60 countries. With $11 billion in sales in 2010, the company is a leading marketer of dairy-based consumer, foodservice and food ingredient products across the United States. Land O'Lakes operates production, packaging, and research facilities in Nampa.
Meadow Gold Dairy has been producing fresh, quality dairy products since 1901, and is the region's oldest and largest full-service dairy company. Meadow Gold has production facilities in seven western states, including Boise.
Founded in 1952, Marathon Cheese is one of the largest independent cheese packaging companies in the world. Through four locations, including one in Mountain Home, Marathon Cheese packaged products ship to all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
A host of organizations and associations work to promote the food and agribusiness industry in the Boise Valley and provide resources for companies that may want to locate here.
- Idaho Department of Agriculture
- TechHelp – A federal/state/private sector partnership involving the University of Idaho, Boise State University and Idaho State University provides many resources and solutions for food manufacturers, processors and inventors. An independent survey in 2007 found that TechHelp had a $65 million positive impact in Idaho’s economy through increased sales, creation of new jobs and plant modernization and efficiency.
- ExporTech – A public and technical assistance resource for companies that seek to boost product sales by venturing into the international arena.
- The University of Idaho Food Technology Center – Serves as a Research & Development center for food-related entrepreneurs. It’s based in Caldwell, located next to the University of Idaho Business and Technology Incubator. Small startups can rent space and test products before rolling them out in the marketplace. The center is the food processing equivalent to the Boise Water Cooler for high-tech startups.
- Idaho Department of Labor Workforce Development Training Programs. New businesses that locate in Idaho can apply for grant funding to receive $2,000 per new employee for specific job training, and up to $3,000 per new employee in rural areas. Click here for an electronic brochure that provides more details about the grant program.
- Center for Workforce Training at Boise State University – The Center, which operates out of the Selland College of Applied Technology at BSU, can put together custom training programs for businesses. The staff can travel to business locations to train your workforce.
- Idaho Small Business Development Center – Offers a wealth of free or low-cost information to help educate and support small business owners, inventors, and entrepreneurs.
- Idaho Milk Processors Association – Works to advance the cause of the Idaho dairy industry.
- Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry – Idaho’s largest lobbying group for business and industry and the “voice of business in Idaho.”
- United Dairymen of Idaho – Trade association that works to increase the demand for U.S.-produced dairy products on behalf of Idaho’s farm families.
- Idaho Potato Commission – Trade association that works to promote the sales of Idaho-grown potatoes worldwide.
- Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee – Works to promote the nationwide sale of onions grown in Idaho and Eastern Oregon, the largest onion-growing region in America.
The food and agribusiness industry continues to be a staple of Idaho’s economy, generating $21 billion in annual sales, for a total of 20 percent of the gross state product. Statewide, in 2009, the industry as a whole accounted for 157,000 jobs, or 17 percent of the state total. The figures presented below are applicable to the Boise-Nampa MSA (Boise Valley), and are representative of a variety of positions within the agricultural industry. For more comprehensive data on the Boise Valley’s food and agribusiness industry, click here.
- 2011 jobs totaled 19,719, projected to reach 21,996 by 2018
- The number of job seekers with prior industry experience (unemployment claimants plus employed job seekers) totaled 8,841
- 2011 average hourly wages ranged from $10.12 to $22.81
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Director, Economic Development Services