SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today the Illinois Department of Agriculture has expanded its presence at North America’s biggest supermarket convention.
The department historically has had the largest state pavilion in the U.S. Food Export Showcase, one of the five food shows held simultaneously during the Food Marketing Institute’s annual convention and exposition. This year, the department also will sponsor a pavilion in All Things Organic, another of the five shows.
“Adding a second pavilion will give more Illinois food companies an opportunity to meet thousands of potential buyers and grow their businesses,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “Market development efforts like this are important to our agricultural economy because food sales create not only more demand for our crops, but also put more and more people to work.”
Illinois is the second-largest producer of corn and soybeans in the United States. It ranks first, however, in sales of processed food products and third in food processing employment.
“The organic trade show was appealing because organic food sales are growing at five times the rate of conventional food sales and are projected to keep increasing at least through the end of the decade,” Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. “Our pavilion will help Illinois companies gain a share of this rapidly developing market.”
The convention will be held May 6-8 in Chicago’s McCormick Place. Approximately 50,000 food buyers are expected to attend.
Forty-five Illinois companies have rented booth space in the two IDOA pavilions at a reduced price through the Governor’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development program. The companies primarily are small- to medium-sized firms that might not be able to afford the exposure that the convention provides without state assistance.
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) sponsors the U.S. Food Export Showcase. Other FMI participants include the Specialty Food Trade’s Fancy Food Show and the United Produce Expo.
The state’s investment in the pavilion pays immediate dividends. In both 2004 and 2005, Illinois companies reported sales in excess of $8.5 million. A complete list of this year’s participants follows:
U.S. Food Export Showcase
Barrington Packaging Systems, Barrington
Bay Valley Foods, Westchester
Bella Nico, Willowbrook
Columbus Foods, Chicago
Cup Pac Contract Packagers, South Beloit
Coupla Guys Foods, Chicago
Eli’s Cheesecake, Chicago
Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food, Wheeling
Food Depot International, Lake Zurich
Fould’s Inc., Libertyville
Gusto Packing, Montgomery
H.C. Schau & Son, Woodridge
Hahn’s Bakery, Geneva
Honey Wafer Baking Co., Crestwood
Iltaco Foods/Chicago Ave. Pizza, Chicago
John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Elgin
Lynfred Winery, Roselle
M & G Foods, Hamilton
Manny’s Frozen Foods, Chicago
Marconi Foods/ V. Formusa, Chicago
Nonnis Food Company, Naperville
Olds Products Company, Bloomington
Pound Bakery, Harvard
Pronto Foods, Chicago
Pure’s Food Specialties, Broadview
Red Hot Chicago – Jemm Foods, Chicago
Rose Acres Farms, Seymour
Rubschlager Baking, Chicago
SAMS Food Group, Bedford Park
Scala Packing, Chicago
Subco Foods, West Chicago
Terri Lynn, Inc., Elgin
Z-Trim Holdings, Mundelein
All Things Organic
Abbey Brown Soaps, Chicago
All Star Trading, Park Ridge
Distant Village Packaging, Huntley
E Sutras, Schaumburg
Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food, Wheeling
Fine Italian Food, Naperville
Futters Nutter Butters, Buffalo Grove
Green Mountain Flavors, Oswego
Greg Christian Organics, Chicago
Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels, Chicago
Raw Creations, Palos Hills
Young Living Essential Oil, Glen Ellyn
Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges. Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses. It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs. Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.