According to the latest available Federal data, in 2018, the U.S. food and beverage manufacturing sector employed more than 1.7 million people, or just over 1 percent of all U.S. nonfarm employment.
Within the U.S. manufacturing sector, food and beverage manufacturing employees accounted for the largest share of employees (14.6 percent).
In thousands of food and beverage manufacturing plants located throughout the country, these employees were engaged in transforming raw agricultural materials into food products for intermediate use or final consumption.
Manufacturing jobs include processing, inspecting, packing, janitorial and guard services, product development, and recordkeeping, as well as nonproduction duties such as sales, delivery, advertising, and clerical and routine office functions.
In 2018, meat and poultry plants employed the largest share of food and beverage manufacturing workers (29.3 percent), followed by bakeries (15.5 percent), and beverage plants (12.2 percent).
This chart appears in the Ag and Food Sectors and the Economy section of the Economic Research Service data product Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials.