Wisconsin Exports Surpass Previous Record

Wisconsin businesses exported $23.43 billion in goods worldwide in 2014—an all-time high for the state and a 1.4 percent increase over the prior year. Over the last four years, the state’s exports have grown by 18.3 percent.

Agricultural exports as a category logged particularly strong growth in 2014: Wisconsin’s agricultural exports grew by 13.6 percent to a record $3.7 billion. This increase was nearly three times greater than the national average for agricultural exports.

In addition to agriculture, Wisconsin saw further increases in its other sectors of strength including water technology-related products (up 7.4 percent to $5.03 billion), biotechnology (up 6.8 percent to $3.11 billion) and health care (up 1 percent to $1.89 billion).

“These numbers show that Wisconsin exports are in demand around the world,” says Katy Sinnott, vice president of international business development with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). “It’s great news that Wisconsin exports have hit an all-time high, and WEDC will keep working to assist Wisconsin companies in expanding their exports further.”

Industrial machinery continues to be Wisconsin’s top export product category, constituting $6.37 billion, or 27 percent of all state exports, in 2014. The second-largest product category is medical and scientific instruments, which account for 9 percent of all state exports, or $2.17 billion in 2014.

Wisconsin leads the nation in exports of more than 40 different products, including cranberries, whey, ginseng root, outboard engines, refrigeration equipment, firefighting vehicles, fire extinguishers and bicycles.

The state saw an 8.6 percent increase in the export of plastics, which surpassed the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2014. Canada is the top destination, accounting for 42 percent of the state’s plastic exports.

Aircraft and spacecraft exports rose by 32 percent to $404.9 million The UK was the leading destination for products in this category.

Wisconsin ranks 19th in the U.S. in total exports, just behind Massachusetts and just ahead of Minnesota. Wisconsin ranks 13th in agricultural exports, with companies exporting to 206 different countries in 2014.

Exports to Wisconsin’s top two export destinations helped boost the overall growth rate. Exports to Canada rose by 5.5 percent to $7.94 billion, due primarily to an increase in organic chemicals, ethanol, fur skins and beverage exports. Exports to Mexico jumped by 12.7 percent to $2.84 billion, primarily due to growth in exports of vehicle parts, plastics and dairy products.

Exports to European Union countries also increased significantly—by 8.1 percent—due in part to increases in exports of automatic data process machines and tractors, trucks and other vehicles.

(April 2015)