Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Neva Hassanein

Commitee Members

Joshua Slotnick, Thomas Campbell


valu-added agriculture, food innovation center, food processing


University of Montana


Montana produces a staggering amount of food crops, yet the state struggles to enjoy the fruits of this abundance. The majority of Montana crops and livestock are shipped out of state as raw commodities, a practice that retains very little of the added value of the crop. Processing these crops within the state would help retain more of their value; however, Montana’s food processing industry has undergone changes that have resulted in decreased availability of food processing facilities and services to agricultural growers and producers. Over the past 70 years, there has been a simultaneous decline in decentralized food manufacturing and an increase in food manufacturing consolidation nationally. Although the process of change is not well documented, the result has been a decreased availability of food that was both grown and processed in Montana. This decreased availability of Montana foods may be remedied in part by the establishment of food innovation centers. This professional paper aims to increase understanding of food innovation centers in order to contribute to the discussion surrounding the desired redevelopment of a Montana food processing industry. For the purpose of this research, a food innovation center is any program that offers facilities for food processing and testing, and often includes technical assistance for marketing, business development, and regulation compliance. The research objectives are threefold: 1) explain both the historical and contemporary context of food processing in Montana, 2) describe and analyze what other states are doing with regard to food innovation centers, and 3) utilize the research findings to make recommendations for how food innovation centers may or may not address identified needs regarding food processing in Montana. Eleven existing food innovation centers are described and analyzed based primarily on telephone interviews with their directors and staff. Based on the analysis, the report concludes by outlining recommendations and options for establishing a food innovation center network in Montana.



© Copyright 2008 Jessica Babcock