WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF FOOD PROCESSING?
While most people in the world still rely on traditional foods for their basic diet those in industrialized centres tend more and more to purchase processed and packaged foodstuffs for convenience. The increasing number of women who now work away from home adds additional pressure for such changes. Even people with a heavily traditional diet are demanding external products either as occasional treats, such as gassy drinks or basic commodities such as white sugar and flour.
To meet these demands the industrial food processing sector has emerged. Food and crop processing is generally considered to be the largest industry in most countries. Studies in several developing countries for example have shown that up to 25% of the urban population can be involved in making or selling ready-to-eat meals. While in developed countries food processing is almost totally carried out in large, automated factories small-scale food processing still remains a vitally important economic activity in the developing world. The small-scale food processing sector:
- is a major source of employment
- adds value to crops by processing
- is a major source of food in the diet
- in some cases, by export, earns valuable foreign exchange
- provides opportunities for import substitution