We hear a fair amount about “value added products,” but what exactly is value add, and how can it help rural economies? “Value added” is the process of taking a raw commodity and changing its form to produce a high quality end product. Historically, many of our natural resources (fisheries, agriculture, forestry) have been exported as a raw product to be refined in Canada or other locations. Since processing is what often adds value, with that export, Maine and other rural, natural resource-based economies lose considerable economic activity and jobs.
In the past decade, Maine has sought to buck that trend by processing some of its own natural resources in-state. Today, companies like Maine Fair Trade Lobster, Blue Ox Malthouse and Maine Woods Pellet Company are processing natural resources here, and with it, keeping the important economic activity in-state.
CEI has always focused on fishing, farming, forestry, and renewable energy, which comprise the majority of Maine’s natural resources. Today, opening new processing channels in-state will help expand and diversify Maine’s economy, making it less dependent on commodity market fluctuations. Since the processing of natural resource products typically involves manufacturing, creating value added products in Maine has the added benefit of expanding our manufacturing sector.