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Food Processing and Packaging Equipment Sector, 2007

U.S. Market Overview

U.S. manufacturers of food processing and packaging equipment had total sales of $7 billion in 2002, according to the most recent Economic Census of the United States. The industry employed more than 40,000 people in more than 1,100 companies, most of which (990) had fewer than 50 employees. U.S. manufacturers exported $854.1 million worth of food processing and packaging machinery in 2006, a decline of 3.5 percent from the previous year, and barely half the 1997 peak of $1.7 billion. The Western Hemisphere and the Asia/Pacific region remain the most important markets for U.S. manufacturers. Canada and Mexico are by far the most important Western Hemisphere markets, while China, Japan, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines are the leading Asia/Pacific markets.

American manufacturers’ principal competitors -- domestically and internationally -- are companies from Germany and Italy. U.S. industry participants identify the Germans’ and Italians’ ability to provide “turn-key” service -- design, engineering and installation of complete processing and packaging lines, rather than simply providing individual machines -- as their most important competitive advantage. While some end-users of food processing and packaging machinery still do their own process engineering, demand in both the domestic and international markets is shifting increasingly in the direction of value-added services along with machine sales.

In contrast with the European competition, some of the largest and most dynamic U.S. manufacturers in this industry specialize in technologies with broad applications across other industries, rather than in integrated processing and packaging solutions. Nordson Corporation of Westlake, Ohio and Videojet of Wood Dale, Illinois are two such U.S. companies. Leading U.S. manufacturers with a more integrated approach, are FMC FoodTech of Madera, California; the Barry Wehmiller Companies of St. Louis, Missouri; and Pro Mach of Cincinatti, Ohio.