Certain business databases such as Marketline, Business 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
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