Fruit industry

APPLES — Adams County’s fruit belt industry relies on its unique soils, topography and climate located along South Mountain. The county produces 70% of Pennsylvania’s total apple crop.

Adams County’s food manufacturing industry, which produced $300 million in GDP for Adams County in 2018, is one of the shining facets within the county’s manufacturing industry—being recognized during this week’s National Manufacturing Week, ending with Friday’s National Manufacturing Day on Oct. 4.

“We often refer to Adams County’s three main industries as our pillars of industry—agriculture, manufacturing and tourism,” said Robin Fitzpatrick, Adams Economic Alliance President. “The food manufacturing industry is unique in that it blends both the manufacturing and agriculture sectors. And Adams County’s multi-million dollar fruit belt industry is all thanks to geography—South Mountain’s well-draining soils, topography and unique climate.”

The food manufacturing sector employs nearly 3,000 people in Adams County who earn an average annual salary of $44,104. That’s according to the most current data, from the second quarter of 2019.

The segment accounts for 7.5% of Adams County’s jobs; nationally, the industry accounts for 1% of American jobs. In terms of growth, Adams County’s food manufacturing sector added 497 jobs over the past 10 years, growing faster than the national average. And the industry is estimated to make $1.4 billion in annual purchases from U.S. suppliers with about 20% or $300 million of these purchases made from Adams County businesses.

“We learned the full extent and depth of our unique Adams County fruit belt’s economic impact thanks to a study funded by the County of Adams and conducted by the Office of Planning and Development which was completed in early 2017,” Fitzpatrick said. “One of the most eye-opening statistics we learned: 75% of the restaurants and institutions in the entire U.S. serve products from Knouse Foods Cooperative.”

Additional major findings from that study, completed in partnership with the Adams County Fruit Growers’ Association, the Penn State Extension Service, and conducted by The Chesapeake Group with TischlerBise, include:

• The annual economic impact of Adams County’s fruit belt on the county’s economy is $580 million

• The annual economic impact of Adams County’s fruit belt on the Pennsylvania state economy is $1.16-$2.32 billion

• $16.4 million in local taxes is generated by fruit belt properties

• Adams County’s fruit belt accounts for 70% of Pennsylvania’s total apple crop

• Adams County ranks #1 in apple and peach production in Pennsylvania

• 54% of Adams County’s fruit farms produce fresh apples for direct or retail consumption—with a value of $70 million annually

• 46% of Adams County’s fruit farms produce apples for processing—with a value of $61 million annually

• The economic impact of fresh and retail production is expected to grow by 24% over the next 10 years

• Statewide there are more than 31,000 acres producing fruit; more than 20,000 of those acres are located within Adams County

Some of the specific jobs within Adams County’s food manufacturing industry include packaging and filling machine operators, food batchmakers, laborers, packers and packagers, inspectors, testers, sorters, industrial machinery mechanics, supervisors, production workers, industrial truck and tractor operators, and freight, stock and material movers.

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