The food industry is a complex, global network of diverse businesses that supplies most of the food consumed by the world's population.
The food industry is a complex, global network of diverse businesses that supplies most of the food consumed by the world's population. The term food industries covers a series of industrial activities directed at the production, distribution, processing, conversion, preparation, preservation, transport, certification and packaging of foodstuffs. Food processing is the transformation of agricultural products into food, or of one form of food into other forms. Food processing includes many forms of processing foods, from grinding grain to make raw flour to home cooking to complex industrial methods used to make convenience foods. Some food processing methods play important roles in reducing food waste and improving food preservation, thus reducing the total environmental impact of agriculture and improving food security.
Primary food processing turns agricultural products, such as raw wheat kernels or livestock, into something that can eventually be eaten. This category includes ingredients that are produced by ancient processes such as drying, threshing, winnowing and milling grain, shelling nuts, and butchering animals for meat. It also includes deboning and cutting meat, freezing and smoking fish and meat, extracting and filtering oils, canning food, preserving food through food irradiation, and candling eggs, as well as homogenizing and pasteurizing milk. Secondary food processing is the everyday process of creating food from ingredients that are ready to use. Baking bread, regardless of whether it is made at home, in a small bakery, or in a large factory, is an example of secondary food processing. Fermenting fish and making wine, beer, and other alcoholic products are traditional forms of secondary food processing. Sausages are a common form of secondary processed meat, formed by comminution (grinding) of meat that has already undergone primary processing. Most of the secondary food processing methods known to human kind are commonly described as cooking methods. Tertiary food processing is the commercial production of what is commonly called processed food. These are ready-to-eat or heat-and-serve foods, such as TV dinners and re-heated airline meals.
Contamination and spoilage problems in primary food processing can lead to significant public health threats, as the resulting foods are used so widely. However, many forms of processing contribute to improved food safety and longer shelf life before the food spoils. Commercial food processing uses control systems such as hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) to reduce the risk of harm.
Tillage is the practice of breaking up the soil with tools such as the plow or harrow to prepare for planting, for nutrient incorporation, or for pest control. Pest control includes the management of weeds, insects, mites, and diseases. Chemical (pesticides), biological (biocontrol), mechanical (tillage), and cultural practices are used. Integrated pest management attempts to use all of these methods to keep pest populations below the number which would cause economic loss, and recommends pesticides as a last resort. Nutrient management includes both the source of nutrient inputs for crop and livestock production, and the method of use of manure produced by livestock. Nutrient inputs can be chemical inorganic fertilizers, manure, green manure, compost and minerals. Water management is needed where rainfall is insufficient or variable, which occurs to some degree in most regions of the world. Some farmers use irrigation to supplement rainfall. In other areas farmers use a fallow year to conserve soil moisture to use for growing a crop in the following year. Agriculture represents 70% of freshwater use worldwide.