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Food & Beverages in the USA

The Largest Worldwide Market for Food

The food industry contributes an annual total of $835 billion USD to the US GDP, encompassing all facets of production, processing, and sales. With a global share of 27%, the US consumer market remains the largest in the world. Naturally, many of the leading players in the food industry, such as PepsiCo, Tyson Foods, Kraft Heinz Company, and General Mills, are US-based. However, due to its size and great variety, stemming from its rich cultural diversity, the American market offers export opportunities for European companies.

Outside of the European Union, the US (next to Russia and Switzerland) is the most important market for alcoholic beverages, coffee, sweets, and snacks, which make up the lion’s share of exported goods in the industry.

Important Market Statistics, Trends, and Developments

Around 17.3 million people are employed in the food industry in the U.S. This includes agriculture, manufacturing, packaging, marketing, distribution, and sales. Spending on food related products totals about 1.5 billion USD each year and food spending accounts for 12.6% of American household expenditures, only trailing those of housing and transportation.

  • Real growth for US food consumption is expected to be 2.4%.
  • The organic food segment is one of the fastest growing sectors of the food industry. In 2015 alone, the US organic food industry totalled $39.7 billion USD in sales. Up until 2018 the US organic food market is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate of 14%.
  • German food exports to the US totalled 1.1 billion Euros in 2015, which is a 2% increase from the previous year. This makes the US the third biggest export market outside the European Union and Switzerland.
  • Revenue in the food-processing-machinery industry is expected to rise by 3% per year until 2019.

Market Opportunities for German Companies

Despite its competitiveness and fragmentation, the US remains an attractive market for German companies. Germany remains the world’s leading exporter of confectionery, cheese, and agricultural engineering. The German food industry solidifies its competitive position on the world stage through high-quality processed products, with high value-added, and regional diversification of its exports.

Around 46.8 million, or 15%, of the American people identify as being of German descent, of which the largest concentration can be identified within the Midwestern region. Cultural identity and taste are interlinked and are important indications for the food industry, offering further opportunities for German companies.

  • “Made in Germany” continues to stand for innovation, quality, and safety in the minds of US customers.
  • Changing consumer tastes are spurring the market share of organic, and lactose- and gluten-free products which in turn provides additional avenues of market entry for German companies.
  • The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is currently being negotiated, would lift the remaining trade barriers and create an advantage for German exporters.
  • Festivals such as the Maifest in Chicago and the German Fest in Milwaukee serve as platforms for highlighting German food and beverages in the US.

Organizations & Links


Gerrit Ahlers
Director, Consulting & Corporate Development Services
Tel.: +1 (312) 585-8345
E-Mail: ahlers(at)gaccmidwest.org

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