Food processing dates back to the prehistoric periods when basic processing incorporated slaughtering, fermenting, sun drying, preserving with salt and various types of cooking methods such as smoking, roasting, steaming and baking. Now with the technological advancement, all the processes are operated mechanically. And now the food processing sector is one of the largest sectors globally in terms of production, growth, consumption and export. The extremely varied modern diet is only truly possible on a wide scale because of food processing. Transportation of more exotic foods, as well as the elimination of much hard labour gives the modern eater easy access to a wide variety of food unimaginable to their ancestors. Over the past few years, this industry experienced a slight growth in revenue thanks to increased demand for ready meals, growing health awareness, increased significance to branding, and greater competition from private labels. The capital intensity of this industry is increasing and is high while many of the players are spending increasing amounts on management and marketing, increased capital intensity is developing in countries.
The most basic goal is to prepare food which is edible and the main aim is processing ingredients which are not safe to eat raw, seasoning foods to make them more appealing and making dishes which abide by the cultural and religions norms regarding food, along with dealing with issues such as reactions and allergies. Processing food is also generally intended to make food which is wholesome, and can include activities such as food fortification, in which minereal and vitamins are added to food during processing to increase their nutritional value. Due to the consciousness of the people about their health, the processing of food has to pass through various standards and quality checks.
In the coming 5 years, the food processing industry will continue to rise at a considerably strong rate. This industry is highly globalised but low in concentration. Discrepancies in cost of production do create incentives to import and export these goods. Growth of product demands may vary from region to region and country to country, but changing consumer diets and rising incomes will increase its growth.
Companies in this industry use freezing, canning, dehydrating and pickling processes to preserve food content. Demand is driven by food consumption which depends on population growth. Companies compete largely on cost and their ability to distribute finished products. Large firms have advantages of purchases and distribution. Small companies compete in local or regional markets. This industry will also give opportunities to the other industries undertaking allied activities. For e.g. wholesale, warehousing, transport, etc.
The future development of this industry can be seen under two criteria. One is establishment of cold storage near high producing and high consumption belt of the country thereby increasing shelf life of food products. And as only 1% of the total produce is converted into products, another way to reduce losses is value addition of processed foods.
This industry provides jobs to many people and looks like an economically viable industry for the future in global market.