Food Manufacturing

Resources for a Growing Industry
by Amy Fitzgerald

Numerous opportunities exist in Illinois’ food manufacturing and distribution industry.

With more than $15 billion of value-added manufacturing in the food industry, and four related Fortune 500 companies maintaining corporate headquarters in the state, it’s apparent the health and longevity of food manufacturing and distribution are highly significant to the Illinois economy.

Food manufacturers account for a large portion of products manufactured in Illinois every year, so it’s imperative that companies within the industry utilize the right people with the right skillsets. From operational and workforce inefficiencies to quality control and product compliance, food manufacturers require a diverse set of capabilities.

Spectrum of the Industry
Did you know…

  • The industry includes a breadth of products and sectors operating across the state, from meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, to milled grains, baked goods and candy. The diversity of production and processing entities, as well as manufacturing partners responsible for the packaging and distribution of food-based products, truly runs the industry spectrum.
  • Small and large companies alike have an opportunity to compete in the state. While it’s a highly competitive marketplace, each segment can uncover its unique advantage and be successful. Large manufacturers have the ability to become more efficient in purchasing and distribution because of economies of scale. Small manufacturers have the benefit of agility for developing unique products and capitalizing on their familiarity with the local and regional markets they serve.
  • Opportunities for manufacturers to improve efficiencies and operations while meeting product compliance in the food industry are unlimited. Food processing is inherently challenging in the extensive changeover process—dedicated lines are the preference, but not the norm. With the risk of contamination from pathogens and allergens, the changeover process often creates an additional layer of inefficiencies, but it is also the key to regulatory compliance. Opportunities exist for process improvement techniques, new equipment technologies, new packaging techniques and improved employee training methods that will give food manufacturers an edge in this highly competitive market. This holds true for suppliers throughout the process, not just the final goods manufacturer. Many supply chain partners for food manufacturers must face a strict quality and regulatory process, often greater than other industries.

With experience working in and with the food industry, IMEC technical specialists are available to help companies in the food manufacturing and distribution industry achieve higher quality and safety practices. They can assess your current state, develop a plan for results, and work with your team along the way to ensure compliance and success.

Meet the Technical Specialists
Based out of Northern Illinois University, Ken Wunderlich brings a unique background in quality and product design to clients throughout the state. By maintaining his HAACP certification and leading several food safety initiatives during his time in the industry, Ken now works with Illinois food manufacturers to ensure the development and functionality of quality auditing systems and controls, as well as optimizing food component suppliers for end-product compliance.

Based in the northern Chicago region, Alex Nunez serves Illinois manufacturers facing issues primarily with workforce development and safety initiatives. With degrees in food and organizational behavior and a diverse background of manufacturing experience, Alex has spent a significant time working with food manufacturers establishing workforce and supervisory training programs, as well as productivity and process improvements. Additionally, his fluency in Spanish brings a unique capability to the diverse employee groups at many companies.

With the ability to serve companies throughout the state in this diverse and growing industry, IMEC technical specialists can provide awareness and implementation of the optimal solutions to transform manufacturing operations. iBi

For more information, email or call (309) 677-2977.