The local food processing industry in Massachusetts includes a range of businesses, from farm-based craft dairy and cheese operations, to artisanal food and beverage companies, to contract based co-packing facilities and food hubs, to livestock and fish processing businesses. These Massachusetts businesses that contribute to a robust State food processing industry by making products that in whole or in part use local ingredients, or by providing employment opportunities to Massachusetts residents. As interest in local foods has increased in recent decades, interest and business activity has also grown in local food processing operations that incorporate local ingredients into products developed by Massachusetts entrepreneurs. Support programs, such as shared kitchens and food business incubators offer kitchen space, facilitate culinary business development, and provide farmers and fishermen opportunities to process their products.
Despite these successes, several challenges remain. Seasonality in this sector presents significant challenges to ensure stable, full-time employment. In some cases, hazardous work conditions, especially in the meat slaughter and fish processing sectors, present safety concerns. And smaller-scale operations face challenges with regulatory requirements that are often tailored to larger companies, and the enforcement of these regulations is variable. As a greater understanding of and collaboration in the local food processing industry is sought, it has become apparent that food processing industry data is scattered, and that the industry is fragmented and lacks industry associations to convene and support food processors.
The goals, recommendations, and actions in this section aim to ensure that the processing sector will have the resources, infrastructure, and connections throughout the supply chain to enable diverse business development that dually supports State farm and seafood production. Recommendations also address the challenges in the regulatory environment, and offer areas for reform and consistent and fair enforcement. ‘Processing’ and ‘Food processing’ are terms used synonymously with ‘food manufacturing’ in the goals and throughout this report.