The agriculture, food and beverage industry plays a pivotal role in the California economy. As recently as 2007, food services comprised California's largest private sector industry. Furthermore, beverage manufacturing is considered one of California's largest growing subsectors.

​​The CSU has always been a strong contributor to this field. In 2007, 62 percent of Californians with bachelor's degrees in agriculture-related fields graduated from the CSU, as did 36 percent of the state's agricultural master's degrees.