Food processing encompasses all the steps that food goes through from the time it is harvested to the time it arrives on consumer’s plate. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), processed foods can be classified into three types viz. Primary, Secondary and Tertiary.
- The primary processing includes basic cleaning, grading and packaging as in case of fruits and vegetables.
- Secondary processing includes alteration of the basic product to a stage just before the final preparation as in case of milling of paddy to rice.
- Tertiary processing leads to a high value-added ready-to eat food like bakery products, instant foods, health drinks, etc.
Functions of Food Processing
- Traditional food processing had two functions: to make food more digestible and to preserve food during times of scarcity as most crops are seasonal.
- By processing food, it can be customized to suit the nutritional requirements of groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, infants, young children and athletes.
- Modern food processing has three major aims:
- To make food safe (microbiologically, chemically).
- To provide products of the highest quality (flavor, color, texture)
- To make food into forms that are convenient (ease of use)
Global Food Processing Industry
The global processed food industry is estimated to be valued around USD 3.4 trillion and accounts for three-fourth of the global food sales. The global food industry is ever changing and evolving. However, health, convenience and value continue to be the key value propositions in this industry.
However, only 6 percent of processed foods are traded across borders compared to 16 percent of major bulk agricultural commodities. The United States and European Union together account for over 60 percent of total retail processed food sales in the world.
Trade liberalization policies through multi-lateral and regional trade agreements have led to a rapid growth in food processing. In the Asian region, Japan is the largest food processing market, but India and China are likely to grow at a faster rate in the next decade