Forest Products & Agriculture
Forest products and agriculture are both grounded in a very solid base of knowledge and skills backed by extensive research facilities centered at the University of Maine. Since these sectors have been embedded in the Maine economy for so long and have achieved significant scale of operations, both forest products and agriculture contain clusters of innovation.
The Forest Products & Agriculture sectors are separate and distinct technology clusters. Both offer significant employment and remain solid foundations of Maine’s economy. They are strong natural resource-based technology clusters yet they serve different markets and utilize separate supply chain relationships.
The Agriculture sector shares much in common with the Aquaculture, Fisheries, and Food Production clusters. The supply chain, from harvesting and production to processing and distribution, is not dissimilar. While this sector is dominated by hundreds of mid-sized and specialty businesses, it features internationally recognized employers Perrier Group-Poland Spring and McCain Foods USA.
Forestry is a highly specialized technology cluster. The sector is vertically integrated with dedicated supply chain linkages that include growing, harvesting, processing, distribution, and the manufacturing of value-added products from Maine’s forestry resources. High use of technology allows this sector to be competitive and highly productive. This sector contains many of Maine’s leading employers including Verso Paper Corporation and Sappi North America.
Though still facing mature and highly competitive markets, there are opportunities for innovation in each subsector that may provide new chances for growth. Some of these opportunities are variations on traditional product lines, such as the increasing market for specialized food products for niche markets. At the cutting edge of biochemistry are biofuels and bioplastics which will require significant growth in Maine’s research capacities.