Cultivating Maine’s Food Sector Workforce

Key Opportunities for the Future of Maine's Economy

Maine’s food sector is growing, and expanded food production and value-added processing are widely recognized as key opportunities for the future of Maine’s economy. A skilled and abundant workforce is necessary to fuel the continued growth of Maine’s food sector. The state’s labor market is tight and food sector businesses face challenges to attract, train, and retain an adequate workforce. Long term population and demographic trends are projected to exacerbate these challenges as Maine’s population ages and low birth rates and limited in-migration of workers fail to match the number of “baby boomers” departing the workforce for retirement.

To begin to address the food sector’s workforce challenges, CEI convened a series of stakeholder meetings throughout Maine to explore the state’s employment trends, learn from business leaders about success stories in employee development and retention, and identify opportunities and resources to cultivate a robust workforce for the future.  Northern Girl in Aroostook County, Ducktrap River of Maine in the Midcoast region, Borealis Breads in Southern Maine, and Baxter Brewing Company in Central Maine generously hosted the meetings.  Funding for the project was provided by the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Broadreach Foundation, and Jane’s Trust.

CEI compiled “Cultivating Maine’s Food Sector Workforce” in order to:

  1. Share the key findings, challenges, successes, opportunities, and resource needs that emerged from stakeholders during the shared learning process meetings, and
  2. Create a foundation of shared understanding for ongoing collaboration among businesses, workforce service organizations, public policy leaders, and food system support organizations to catalyze growth for businesses and quality jobs for Maine people within the State’s food sector.

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