WATSONVILLE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Southern California workers and businesses contribute significantly to the state’s strawberry industry, generating nearly $3-billion in non-farm revenue every year, according to a new study released by the California Strawberry Commission.
The study, conducted by economists at California State University, Fresno (CSU Fresno), determined that a wide range of businesses in five Southern California counties support the state’s fourth largest crop.
“Our research found that strawberries and Southern California’s urban economy are strongly linked and benefit one another,” said Annette Levi, PhD, professor and agricultural business department chair at CSU Fresno. “We were surprised at the interdependence between rural farming and jobs in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.”
The report, Southern California Economy: Contributions from the Strawberry Supply Chain, surveyed businesses in Los Angeles, San Diego, Ventura, Orange and Riverside counties. Key findings include:
- More than $2.7 billion in annual revenue is generated in those counties from non-farm businesses;
- A thriving non-farm urban sector has created a wide range of companies involved in retail, processing, packaging, brokering, shipping and other businesses;
- A diverse workforce that includes an equal number of women and men – especially Latinos and Asians – with a wide range of educational backgrounds.
The report also profiled several businesses, including a family packaging company in Los Angeles and a Hispanic-owned transportation company in Vista specializing in shipping and handling of California strawberries.
“What made this research so unique is that it provides a micro-view of a crop’s supply chain within an urban setting,” said Levi, who conducted the research with her CSU Fresno colleague Serhat Asci on behalf of the California Strawberry Commission. “It has long been assumed that California agriculture has a major ripple effect on the urban economy. This study documents how one crop, strawberries, plays a major role in supporting non-farm businesses.”
Levi noted that when Southern California on-farm revenue is included in the total economic impact to the region, the overall benefit to Southern California climbs to nearly $4 billion.
With the best climate in the world for sustainably growing strawberries, California continues to lead the United States and the world in strawberry production. California strawberry farmers produce nearly 90 percent of U.S.-grown strawberries.
“While our research did not specifically examine social benefits, a $3-billion annual infusion of revenue clearly translates into significant annual tax revenue that supports local, state and regional government services, including funds that support teachers, police and firefighters,” said Levi. “Our research suggests that a strong strawberry industry is important to Southern California in many ways.”