California strawberries support urban economy, too

While the California strawberry crop generates sales for the industry, it also generates almost $3 billion in non-farm revenue every year, according to a California Strawberry Commission study.

A diverse range of businesses in five Southern California counties support strawberries, the state’s fourth-largest crop, according to a news release from the commission.

Economists at California State University-Fresno conducted the study, called “Southern California Economy: Contributions from the Strawberry Supply Chain.” Businesses in Los Angeles, San Diego, Ventura, Orange and Riverdale counties.

“Our research found that strawberries and Southern California’s urban economy are strongly linked and benefit one another,” Annette Levi, professor and agricultural business department chair at the university, said in the release. “We were surprised at the interdependence between rural farming and jobs in Los Angeles and Orange counties.”

Among the study’s findings, according to the release:

More than $2.7 billion in annual revenue is generated from the five counties from non-farm businesses;

A non-farm urban sector has created a range of companies involved in retail, processing, packaging, brokering and shipping; and

A diverse workforce that includes an equal number of men and women, especially Latinos and Asians, with a range of educational backgrounds.

“What made this research so unique is that it provides a micro-view of a crop’s supply chain within an urban setting,” Levi said in the release. “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,” she said in the release.

For more information on the study, visit the commission’s website.

-Chris Kroger