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Food Systems

A guide to library resources and other sources for researching food systems

Industry Classifications

Certain business databases such as MarketlineBusiness Source Premier and IBISWorld allow you to search by North America Industry Classification System (NAICS) or Standard Industry Classification (SIC code). It may be useful to write these codes down as you find them when starting your research to help facilitate your search strategy.​

NAICS is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies to classify business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy. It uses a hierarchical structure comprised of main two-digit sector codes and various subsector and industry codes.

For example, sectors 31-33 are for manufacturing, including food manufacturing, which is NAICS code 311. Some of its subsector codes include: 

3112.    Grain and Oilseed Milling
31121     Flour Milling and Malt Manufacturing
311211     Flour Milling
311212     Rice Milling
311213     Malt Manufacturing


NAICS is reviewed every five years for potential revisions (the last time was 2017) so that the classification system can keep pace with the changing industry. See the NAICS Update Process Sheet for more information.

The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) is comprised of four-digit codes that categorize industries based on business activities. They were mostly replaced by the NAICS system in 1997, but are still used by some government agencies and companies, including the SEC, and can be helpful when conducting historical research.

They also have a hierarchical structure of two-digit codes with subcategories listed in order from general (3-Digit) to more specific (4-Digit). For example, 20 is the code for Food and Kindred Products, with subcategories including: 

204   Grain Mill Products 

2041    Flour and other Grain Mill Products

2043    Cereal Breakfast Foods

2044    Rice Milling

2045    Prepared Flour Mixes and Doughs 

2046    Wet Corn Milling

News, Magazine and Journal Articles

  • Factiva provides access to thousands of major newspapers, magazines, trade journals, reports, and other publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Food and Drink, Food Weekly News, Agriculture Week and U.S. Department of Agriculture Documents, as well as company profiles, news articles and press releases. Features the ability to search by subject and industry codes, e.g. nutrition, food security, food/drink, food additives, food products and agriculture technology. 
  • Business Source Premier contains articles from thousands of scholarly and professional publications, academic journals, case studies, market research reports and trade magazines, as well as company profiles and industry sector reports. Searchable by field tags such as subject, geographic terms and reviews and products. Relevant sources include Food Processing, Food & Drink Technology and the Agriculture Statistical Yearbook
  • Access World News contains full-text content from over 2,200 North American newspapers and more than 1,200 international newspapers, plus 300 wire services and over 200 broadcast news transcripts. Topics covered include local, regional, and world issues, politics, government policies, industries, and cultural activities. A clickable map-based interface enhances the ability to search a selection of newspapers. 
  • Westlaw Campus Research contains the full text of court opinions, statutes, and regulations from state and federal governments, over 800 law reviews and journals, a legal encyclopedia and Black's Law Dictionary. It also features selected business, trade and professional journals and publications, including Advertising Age, The New England Journal of Medicine, Newsweek, Consumer Reports, and Atlantic.  Also contains company profile information through Hoover's Company Records.

  • The New York Times - This subscription allows all Rutgers affiliates to create personal accounts, which provide full access to and The New York Times app. Users can sign up for an alerts option to receive specific column and newsletter emails. 

  • The Wall Street Journal - Users are required to login and then create a personal account in order to access the service. Coverage includes news, information, commentary, and analysis. Also features the ability to sign up for newsletters and alerts

  • The guide to Industry News and Trade Magazines lists hundreds of freely-accessible sources; subheadings include Manufacturing and Agriculture and Fishing.

  • Google News features top news stories on a variety of topics, including business, technology, science and health.
  • Google News archive is an archive of global newspapers, listed in alphabetical order and fully searchable.
  • Google Scholar searches across scholarly literature, including articles, books, theses, conference papers, and technical reports. Sources include academic publishers, professional societies, university repositories, and other scholarly websites.


Market Research

  • IBISWorld - Contains detailed Industry Overviews organized by NAICS code, featuring market share data, top competitors, industry growth rates, outlook projections and SWOT analyses. For example, Flour Milling in the U.S. is US INDUSTRY (NAICS) REPORT 31121. This resource also features specialized industry reports and some Global Industry Surveys. 
    • IBISWorld also has Procurement Reports, available via the ProcurementIQ database. Examples of relevant subjects include Food Safety Consulting Services, Catering Services and Refrigerated Storage Services. These reports cover topics such as price drivers and pricing trends, ownership costs, supply market characteristics, supply chain risks and market share concentration. 
  • MarketLine - Contains over 3,500 Company, Industry, Country and Market Analysis Reports. Browse/search by sector using the "Sectors" tab at the top to search topics such as Consumer Goods, Retail and Foodservice for food product profiles and analysis, or Agriculture and Forestry to find agricultural market data. Or choose "Industry Analysis" under the Analysis tab to find Industry Case Studies such as "Healthier Snacking: Changes in impulse food industry due to COVID-19 Lockdown." 
  • Mergent Online - Features company information, including acquisitions, changes in ownership structure, subsidiaries, property holdings, and key personnel. Use the Supply Chain tab to search by trade/product or sector/industry hierarchies using NAICS and SIC codes. You can also search by industry (such as the food and beverage category) and/or region via the Industry Analysis tab to get competitive and supply chain data.
  • Mintel Reports - Product and industry market research reports covering both the U.S. and global markets in numerous niche areas. Contains comprehensive marketing and consumer research data, including information on trends, demographics, and the competitive landscape. Great for marketing research, particularly specific food products, eg. salty snacks, crackers, and condiments, as well as trends such as Food Packaging and Distribution, Food Ethics, Weight Management, and Private Label Food and Drink.
  • Statista - Integrates statistical data on a wide variety of topics and industries from over 18,000 sources, including market reports, trade publications, scientific journals, and government databases. Food industry topics range from broad (the U.S. Food Retail Industry - Statistics and Facts) to more specific (Juice and Smoothie brands). Includes reports, market outlook data and infographics. 

Web Resources

  • ASQ Quality InfoSearch features journals, articles and conference proceedings from the American Society for Quality, covering both the manufacturing and service industries and topics such as quality tools and standards.
  • Price Indexes - Economic Indicators
    • Consumer Price Indexes (CPI): monthly (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) - measures the average change in prices over time paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services, e.g. food. Keep in mind: CPI statistics cover professionals, self-employed, poor, unemployed and retired people in the U.S. but exclude non-metro or rural populations, farm families, armed forces, people serving in prison and those in mental hospitals.
    • Producer Price Indexes (PPI): monthly (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) - measures the average change over time in the selling prices received by domestic producers (industries that make the products) for their output. 
    • Import/Export Price Indexes (MXP): monthly (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) - data on changes in the prices of nonmilitary goods and services traded between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Useful in determining how food products and services in international trade markets change from one period to the next, thus identifying specific industry and global price trends
  • ThomasNet - Directory of North American manufacturers and distributors, mostly of industrial products or components. Related Products / Service Families include food, snacks, food additives and food processors. 
  • Trade associations often provide industry reports and statistics, advice for people planning businesses and careers, and/or lists of upcoming trade shows.  Membership typically offers additional benefits and information. Some lists of examples:

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