Welcome to FoodsTrade.com
Company Overview
Overview
Essentially, the food industry involves the commercial movement of food from field to fork. The modern food industry is the result of technological and cultural changes that have occurred over the last 150 years. Traditionally, over thousands of years, food production was centered around two activities:
  • Labor-intensive agricultural activities, the farming of grain, produce and livestock.
  • Personal food preparation, where individuals and families acquire raw and minimally processed ingredients, and prepare them for their own consumption.
A significant percentage of the population was directly involved in farming, and in the process, many people actually fed themselves, from field to table. By contrast, the modern food industry relies far more on technology, particularly on mechanization and biochemistry, than on human and animal labor. In this way, food is raised, manipulated, preserved and moved around, resulting in a food industry that is to a great degree global in nature, with food and related resources travelling great distances. For example, farm machinery and parts from Europe and agrichemicals from the US may routinely travel to farms in South America, where farm products are raised and shipped to North America for fresh market consumption, or for use in processed foods which may then travel to further points around the world. The point at which foods are gathered and prepared has also become fragmented: much of what we eat has already been assembled for consumption.

This modern food system relies heavily on technology, transportation, management and logistics for physical fulfillment, and on marketing and government regulation for maintaining an efficient consumer market. An incredibly wide range of businesses and individuals are employed by and profit from all aspects of this huge and complex system. A tremendous amount of governmental regulation and administration is also involved in this continual flow of materials, food products, and related information.

Industry Size
Processed food sales worldwide are approximately US$3.2 trillion (2004).

In the U.S., consumers spend approximately US$1 trillion annually for food, or nearly 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Over 16.5 million people are employed in the food industry.

Agriculture
Agriculture is the process of producing food, feed, fiber and other desired products by the cultivation of certain plants and the raising of domesticated animals (livestock). The practice of agriculture is also known as "farming", while scientists, inventors and others devoted to improving farming methods and implements are also said to be engaged in agriculture. More people in the world are involved in agriculture as their primary economic activity than in any other, yet it only accounts for four percent of the world's GDP.

Food Processing
Food processing is the methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food for human consumption. Food processing takes clean, harvested or slaughtered and butchered components and uses them to produce marketable food products.

Wholesale and Distribution
A vast global transportation network is required by the food industry in order to connect its numerous parts. These include suppliers, manufacturers, warehousing, retailers and the end consumers.

Retail
With populations around the world concentrating in urban areas, food buying is increasingly removed from all aspects food production. This is a relatively recent development, taking place mainly over the last 50 years. The supermarket is a defining retail element of the food industry, where tens of thousands of products are gathered in one location, in continuous, year-round supply.

Food preparation is another area where change in recent decades has been dramatic. Today, two food industry sectors are in apparent competition for the retail food dollar. The grocery industry sell fresh and largely raw products for consumers to use as ingredients in home cooking. The food service industry offers prepared food, either as finished products, or as partially prepared components for final "assembly".

Food Industry Technologies
Sophisticated technologies define modern food production. They include many areas. Agricultural machinery, originally led by the tractor, has practically eliminated human labor in many areas of production. Biotechnology is driving much change, in areas as diverse as agrichemicals, plant breeding and food processing. Many other areas of technology are also involved, to the point where it is hard to find an area that does not have a direct impact on the food industry. Computer technology is also a central force, with computer networks and specialized software providing the support infrastructure to allow global movement of the myriad components involved.

Marketing
As consumers grow increasingly removed from food production, the role of product creation, advertising, publicity become the primary vehicles for information about food. With processed food as the dominant category, marketers have almost infinite possibilities in product creation.

Regulation
The smooth flow of international trade is critical to the functioning of the modern food industry. Government regulations have to be synchronized to some greater degree to allow this.

Labor and Education
Until the last 100 years, agriculture was labor intensive. Farming was a common occupation. Food production flowed from millions of farms. Farmers, largely trained from generation to generation, carried on the family business. That situation has changed dramatically. In North America, over 50% of the population were farm families only a few decades ago; now, that figure is around 1-2%, and some 80% of the population lives in cities. The food industry as a complex whole requires an incredibly wide range of skills. Several hundred occupation types exist within the food industry.

Research and Development
Research in agricultural and food processing technologies happens in great part in university research environments. Projects are often funded by companies from the food industry. There is therefore a direct relationship between the academic and commercial sectors, as far as scientific research.