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Food & Agriculture

We hope you're hungry. There's a lot to take in.

Minnesota's leading food products sector sprouted in the state because the industry is rooted in our agricultural history. From farm to table, Minnesota is a food production and agriculture powerhouse.

Agricultural production and processing industries generate over $106 billion annually in total economic impact and support 388,134 jobs.

It started with a seed

Our agricultural economy

  • Generated about $21.3 billion in agricultural sales per year.
    • The highest valued commodities included corn, soybeans and hogs.
  • Exported about $9.3 billion worth of goods in 2021.
  • Ranks 5th in crops ($12.9 billion) and 7th in total agricultural production ($21.3 billion).
  • Ranks 4th compared to other states in terms of total agricultural exports.

Top Crops

  • agricultural-products
  • 1st in sugar beets, oats, wild rice, red kidney beans
  • 2nd in green peas, sweet corn
  • 3rd in soybeans, dry beans, sunflower
  • 4th in corn/canola
  • 6th in harvested acres of principal crops
  • 7th in barley
  • 9th in wheat, potatoes, snap beans

Source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Top Livestock Produced

  • 1st in turkeys raised
  • 2nd in hogs
  • 6th in red meat, cheese, honey
  • 7th in dairy cows
  • 8th in milk
  • 8th in cattle and calves

Our top export commodities include soybeans, corn, feed grains and processed feed, and pork.

A Leader in Food Innovation

Minnesota leads the nation in food patents per capita, is fourth in food-product-related patents per capita – and has long been at the forefront of research and innovation in agriculture, food production and food safety.

Global Giants

Minnesota is one of the top producers of food in the country. Three of the top 13 food companies in the U.S. by food sales are based here: General Mills, Cargill and Hormel. Source Food Processing's Top 100 – 2022

  • Headquarters for Fortune 500 food giants General Mills, CHS, Land O'Lakes, and Hormel
  • Cargill, the largest private company in the country by revenue, is a food company headquartered here.
  • Foreign-owned food companies with significant operations in Minnesota include Kerry, Ornua, and Agropur

Not surprisingly, Minnesota is home to some of the nation's largest agricultural, food production and distribution companies – many with a global reach. Among them:

  • global-food-giantsCargill
  • CHS
  • General Mills
  • Hormel Foods
  • Land O'Lakes
  • Rosen's Diversified
  • Schwan's
  • Jennie-O Turkey Store
  • American Crystal Sugar
  • Michaels Foods

Thriving Startups

A strong field of established firms in an industry often leads to a thriving startup market as well. Our startups succeed by meeting demand with product and distribution innovations.

A few examples of our creative startups who are growing each day:

  • Bizzy Coffee: organic, cold-brew coffee
  • Surly Brewing, Fulton, Lift Bridge, and Summit are but a few of Minnesota's 230+ craft breweries
  • JonnyPops: all-natural frozen fruit confections
  • Puris: non-GMO, organic pea protein, starch, and fiber
  • Redhead Creamery: artisan cheeses
  • Revol Greens, Living Green Farms: sustainable produce
  • SnoPac: certified organic frozen fruits and vegetables
  • WholeMe: healthy convenience foods

A Workforce Specialized in Food Production

  • 5th in agricultural and food scientists
  • Three times the concentration of food scientists and technologists as the national average (location quotient: 3.08)

Sector Strengths

Food and beverage manufacturing

Food and beverage manufacturing in the state has the most significant employment among all manufacturing industries, with 53,400 jobs in 2022. These industries pay $3.9 billion in earnings.

  • Nearly 1,000 business establishments; nearly 50% are located in Greater Minnesota
  • 53,400 employees statewide, ranking 11th nationally
  • 4th largest agricultural exporting state in the U.S.
  • 5th in value of crops, with in-state suppliers for many product ingredients

Dairy Products and Companies

  • General Mills, a Fortune 500 company, is a major producer of consumer dairy products, including Yoplait and Annie's yogurt.
  • Schwan's, is on Forbes' list of largest private companies and started in-home food delivery services in 1952 delivering ice cream. It remains a prominent manufacturer and retailer of manufactured dairy products.
  • Land O'Lakes, also a Fortune 500 company, ranks as the #1 retail butter brand in the United States.
  • American Dairy Queen, headquartered in Minnesota, has over 6,000 locations in the U.S., Canada, and 20 other countries, through the DQ system of franchisees.
  • Kraft Heinz completed a more than $100 million expansion of its New Ulm, Minn., cheese plant in 2017. The plant produces Velveeta, Kraft Deli Deluxe cheese slices and Handi-Snacks cheese and crackers.

Livestock Production, Animal Health and Research

cows-feedlotMinnesota's strength in animal science is reflected in top rankings in livestock and livestock products nationwide. From animal feeds, to swine genetics, to robotic technologies for agricultural applications, animal science research institutions and companies thrive in Minnesota.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Agriculture Statistics Service, Minnesota ranks:

  • 1st in turkeys raised
  • 2nd in hogs
  • 6th in red meat production
  • 7th in milk cows inventory
  • 8th in cattle on feed

Minnesota is home to the Jennie-O Turkey Store, the largest turkey processor in the nation.

The University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine was ranked the 11th best veterinary school in the country by U.S. News and World Report (2023).

Minnesota's post-secondary institutions grant hundreds of degrees in farm and ranch management and animal-related fields each year.

Minnesota Animal Science Companies

animal-science-companiesOur Animal Science Companies are global leaders in helping feed the people and animals of the world. They test, treat and research all manner of animal health and feed issues.

Research and Development

Minnesota's public and private facilities are at the forefront of research and development, addressing a wide variety of animal health and science concerns:

  • Cargill Animal Nutrition Innovation Campus
  • University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
  • Agriculture Extension at the University of Minnesota fosters research related to poultry, swine, dairy, beef and other livestock
  • Research and Outreach Centers at the University of Minnesota

Innovation Incubator

  • Our agricultural history and strong food industries provide a collaborative ecosystem fostering innovation through public-private partnerships, deep-bench academic and business expertise, and a growing number of business accelerators.

Agricultural Technology

Minnesota's success in agriculture and food production is due to its amazing technology. From machinery to patent development, to IoT, the state is leader in Agriculture and Food technology.

Farm Machinery

Minnesota is a hotspot for agricultural machinery manufacturing. The national average for an area the size of Minnesota size is 1,252 employees, while there are 3,264 in the state, according to Lightcast.

The state's agricultural manufacturing companies provide all machinery necessary farmers need to succeed.

Top Agricultural Companies Operating in Minnesota

  • Bobcat Co: Excavators, Compact Tractors, Mowers
  • Tafco Equipment Co: Steel truck bodies and level lifts
  • AGCO: Tractors, harvesters, forage blowers, smart farming
  • Herc U Lift Inc: Heavy construction equipment, lift trucks
  • Agco Engineering Ctr: Engineering services
  • Balzer Inc: Grain carts
  • Schlagel Inc: Handling equipment for grains, feeds and fertilizers
  • Friesen's Inc: Custom engineered systems for food manufacturing
  • Miller Manufacturing Co: Equine, cattle, hog products
  • PALS: Barn design, feed systems
  • Titan Machinery-Shakopee: Agricultural Machinery

Note: Companies with around $40 million or more in sales.

Source: Reference Solutions.

Agricultural and Food Patents

Minnesota agricultural and food entities are great innovators, registering a significant number of patents nationwide. Between 2000-2022, ag-food related companies in Minnesota registered a large number of patents:

  • General Mills: 577
  • Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.: 530
  • Cargill: 341
  • AGCO: 111
  • Land O’Lakes: 54

Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Patents granted to Minnesota as inventor state.


Minnesota is embracing IoT to manage their farms. From radio frequency animal tracking systems to Ag Intelligent Solutions, the state's farms use technology to thrive. Examples of companies providing IoT technology to farmers in Minnesota and around the globe include:

  • Geissler Corporation: Radio frequency animal tracking systems, cattle handling
  • Land O'Lakes: AgTech platform built on Microsoft Azure to enable intelligent agriculture solutions
  • Summit Envirosolutions: Smart groundwater monitoring and management to optimize water pumping and irrigation in a variety of settings
  • New Boundary Technologies: Remote management of pumps, valves and irrigation systems to conserve water
  • Rowbot: Robotics and automation to optimize planting and fertilizer application
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