Brooklyn takes its trendy artisanal food to the bank

December 20, 2012 Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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From cafes to artisanal pickle makers and craft beer manufacturers, Brooklyn’s burgeoning food scene is an engine of job growth for the borough.

A new report released by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce shows that Brooklyn’s “food chain” — supermarkets, restaurants, gourmet food shops and food makers— accounts for 16 percent of businesses in Brooklyn and 12.5 percent of Brooklyn’s private sector jobs.

 “Brooklyn’s restaurant scene is bigger and better than ever, and more importantly, the food we eat here is often food that’s made here,” said Carlo A. Scissura, President and CEO of the Chamber, in the Winter 2012 Brooklyn Labor Market Review.

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“Specialty food manufacturing, restaurants and gourmet food stores are growing in Brooklyn. I’m proud to say that Brooklyn is creating new businesses and new jobs,” he added.

When you look at the entire Brooklyn food scene — starting with food manufacturing and wholesale distribution, and including grocery stores, specialty food stores, restaurants and coffee shops — nearly 59,000 people are employed in 7,800 businesses, according to the report. Restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and grocery stores added one out of every five new jobs in Brooklyn since 2000.

All of that food is bringing spending power to the borough. In 2011 alone, wages in the Brooklyn food chain sector came to $1.46 billion.

Food manufacturing is bringing in bucks from other boroughs and other states. Nearly a quarter of the output of Brooklyn food and beverage manufacturers is sold outside of the borough — and $134 million of Brooklyn’s food and beverage output is exported outside of the U.S.

Not all food-related jobs are high-powered, however. Half of food manufacturing jobs here are in bakeries, which pay lower wages – about $24,200. But others are in larger businesses (averaging 25 workers) which pay about $45,300, higher than Brooklyn’s overall private sector average wage of $38,300.


Brooklyn’s 377 food start-up operations and one-person specialty food manufacturing businesses, like Anarchy In a Jar (marmalade); Alchemy Creamery (small-batch, non-dairy ice cream); Brooklyn Brew Shop (beer-making kits) and Kumquat Cupcakery (“adorable mini cupcakes”) have added tremendous vitality to Brooklyn’s menu.

Additional jobs are being created by Brooklyn’s food wholesellers, which have added nearly 1,000 workers over the past five years, led by an increase of nearly 800 workers in beer, wine and distilled beverage wholesaling.

Food wholesaling workers earn an average annual wage of $47,600. In 2010, there were 832 one-person food wholesalers in Brooklyn.

The entire report can be found at fiscalpolicy.org


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