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Development Of The Food Industry

A.1.1 Explain that food is a precious, highly seasonal and perishable commodity that has to be handled carefully and in an appropriate and timely manner to ensure that it is safe to eat.

Food is a necessity to life all around the globe. Certain foods such as wheat and rice keep over 90% of the world living everyday. Adults and especially children have to get their daily share of appropriate nutrition, which means a lot of calcium for the children. Yet the issue with milk is that milk goes bad very easily after a relatively short amount of time. Thus this has to be taken into account for the transportation and distribution of milk, ensuring that it won't spoil.

Many types of foods, such as vegetables and fruits are seasonal. This would change the frequency of that food at different times of the year, which would mean finding another source from which to obtain food.

Food needs to be handled appropriately and quickly to ensure its freshness but more importantly that it is safe to eat. Cleanliness is important.

A.1.2 Explain that food is a basic requirement for life and that humans need to eat at fairly frequent and regular intervals to survive.

Food is one of the basic requirements for life along with shelter and water. The food one eats contains nutrients such as calcium and iron among others. The nutrients found in food all contribute to the development and maintenance of the body. Depriving the human body from food initiates a breakdown of one's system, and the human biology is distorted. The human body can only withstand an average of 40 days without food before dying, however throughout this time period severe dysfunctions begin to take place.

An example of the common food pyramid, showing each level of the pyramid with images of real foodstuff A version of the food pyramid for senior citizens. Much emphasis is placed on the consumption of water.

A.1.3 Describe how, before the Industrial Revolution, most people lived in rural areas and would have grown their own food.

Before the Industrial Revolution, people lived self-sufficient lives. They had (or had access to) their own cattle and animals from which they obtained milk, eggs, meat, and grew crops that they would themselves plant, harvest and eat.

When the Industrial revolution arrived much of the wealth centred in the cities where people started to relocate. Thus more and more food needed to be transported to the cities to feed the swelling masses.

A.1.4 Explain how the food industry has developed in response to urbanization.

Following the Industrial Revolution, there was an increasing trend towards urbanization with most people not growing their own food but relying on other people (farmers) from whom they purchased foods either directly or indirectly.

The Industrial Revolution brought about more lucrative jobs in the primary sector of industry (e.g. mining) as well as the secondary and tertiary sectors of industry (e.g. working in a factory or running a restaurant or bar). The Industrial Revolution also brought about advancements in increasing food production due to factories and machinery speeding up the processing of raw materials and foodstuffs into readily consumable products.

As more and more people moved to the city where arable land is scarce, reliability on farmers who remained in the countryside to produce food increased. In order for secondary processing, which occurs most often in the city, farmers and millers would have to perform primary processing (e.g. turning wheat into flour). As countries in Europe and North America developed during the Industrial Revolution, urbanization and commercial farming, or raising crops and animals in order to be sold or traded, became more commonplace because of the reliance on urban inhabitants on rural farmers.

Also, urban areas are usually saturated with industrial pollution; many cars have easier access to urban areas, and factories attempt to base their locaion close to urban areas to be closer to the market and minimize transportation costs. This abundance in pollution cannot guarantee good product quality, and agriculture would take a severe hit with the potential diseases that products conceived in urban areas have accumulated.

A.1.5 Outline the roles of key stakeholders in the food chain between farmer and consumer.

Consider farmer, farmers’ market, food manufacturer, food wholesaler, food retailer and consumer.
  • Farmer: produces the agricultural goods (vegetables, wheat,..) He is responsible for the “rough” part of the food chain by simply unearthing the goods and making them ready for transport.
  • Farmer’s market: place where the farmer can directly sell his agricultural products to the individual, who as a consequence will get the food directly from the farmer and not through a retailer for example. It is also a place where food wholesalers can purchase agricultural goods from the farmers (often in bulk) in order to then resell this to food retailers.
  • Food manufacturer: in case of products that have to be refined for example, the food manufacturer will purchase the necessary good from the farmer and use them in order to produce derivative products, which he will then see to food wholesalers.
  • Food retailers: purchase food from the wholesaler and sell it to the customers
  • Customers: form the last part of the food chain; they purchase their merchandise usually from retailers.

A.1.6 Describe the role of primary processing and secondary processing in the production of food products.

Primary processing is the conversion of a crop into a product that may or may not be consumed directly. Primary processing is undertaken to enhance the shelf life, for example, flour, or ease of distribution of a product, for example, concentration of orange juice. Secondary processing is the conversion of an intermediate product into a final product for consumption, for example, flour to bread.

Primary processing is the first step in the production of food, because it is the conversion of a crop or animal into ingredients that can eventually be transformed into consumable food. The processes involved in primary processing include washing, milling, trimming, squeezing, peeling, aging and butchery, shelling and chopping. In the case of vegetable oils, sugar, wine, milk, tea and coffee, more complex processes such as extraction and refining, pasteurisation and fermentation are involved. Sometimes, raw materials can be consumed directly after going through one of the above processes. For example, an apple can be directly consumed after being washed and peeled, although some chose to forgo the latter process. However, some food products must go through more complicated processes in order to create yet another food product. For example, grapes (readily consumable in itself) will go through the process of fermentation in order to be turned into wine or vinegar.

Flour from wheat - Primary Flour into Bread - secondary

Secondary processing is the final step in the production of food, because it is the combination of ingredients or the transformation of primary products into readily available food fit to be eaten. The processes involved in secondary processing include but are not limited to mixing, heating, cooling, extruding, drying, layering or dividing, aerating, forming or moulding and fortifying. These are the processes that transform primary products such as minced beef into foods such as hamburger patties or transforming cream into dishes such as meringue. In the 20th century, secondary processing led to the creation of convenience foods such as instant noodles that are prepared through the boiling of water.

A.1.7 Outline three factors that determine a need for primary and/or secondary processing.

Consider storage properties, volume, weight and energy considerations.

In case of primary processing of grains and flour for example, these goods will be heavy to transport from rural communities to the city, where they will undergo secondary processing into bread for example. Since these products weigh heavily, transportation will need to be adapted. As a consequence, Trucks and lories will be used, which require gas (energy consideration). Because wheat for example takes in a lot of storage space because of its volume, it is likely to be converted into flour soon; in order to free space for new crops of wheat and to keep the food developing cycle going. In case of storage, it needs to be taken into consideration that perishable foods deteriorate gradually and must be handled hygienically. In chilled storage, food is usually kept at less than 8°C (but above freezing point of the food) to reduce spoilage by micro-organisms and enzymes. In frozen storage food is usually frozen quickly and held at a steady temperature around -18°C. The primary processing of wheat and other cereal grains into flour will require a lot of energy. Since this process is undertaken mechanically, it will require a lot of power. So will the secondary processing into bread, since gas will be needed for the oven.

A.1.8 Identify the key phases in the evolution of food outlets.

Food would have initially been acquired through bartering in markets. Following this came the development of shops selling particular commodities (for example, greengrocer, grocer, butcher, fishmonger). Then convenience stores, selling a range of foodstuffs under one roof, were developed. These grew into supermarkets and then hypermarkets supported by sophisticated national distribution systems to ensure that food is at the right place at the right time in response to consumer needs. There has been a recent revival of farmers’ markets in response to lifestyle issues.
  1. Initially, food was sold and acquired in markets. Food supplies originated directly from the farmer and were sold by him at the market to the people. This form of food outlet was the predominant way that food was acquired. During the industrial revolution, urbanisation and change of work habits, shops appeared.
  2. Specialised shops started to open and would focus on one particular aspect of the food pyramid. For example, meat would be sold at the butcher, vegetables at the greengrocer etc... With the increase in efficiency of food distribution, change in working patterns and increase in wealth, convenience stores provided a compact and quick way to acquire the necessary amounts of food in the least amount of time.
  3. With the increasing focus on having a job, supermarkets and hypermarkets would occur in order to provide the people of all they needed in one shop, so to prevent losing time by going to several shops. The developments of such complexes has been stimulated by sophisticated national distribution systems to ensure that food is at the right place at the right time in response to consumer needs. However, this system also has some setbacks, such as for example that such food supplies are often chemically and genetically manipulated in order to meet demands on time.
  4. Because of lifestyle issues (fresh food, non genetically modified, organic), many people have tended to return to the concept of the farmers' market because it guarantees that the food comes directly and unmodified from the farmer. It gives people the impression to live a healthier life.

A.1.9 Explain that the food industry is now the largest industry in the world.

Forbes article about the world's largest industry.

The food production industry ranks as the largest industry in the world along with other industries such as tourism. It encompasses everything from the noodles at a shop in Vietnam to the the icing inside a Twinkie in the USA.

Part of the reason why the food industry is so large is because every food item's value can be measured in the chain of production. Logistics (handling of operations) of food production are also taken into consideration, adding to the value of the industry. Several industries can be responsible for the production and transport of several ingredients and foods. Take the production of bread, for example. Industries are based around the raising of wheat or corn, the conversion into flour, the transportation of the ingredients, the baking of the bread, and finally the wholesaling of the bread in several commercial outlets ranging from simple bakeries to hypermarkets (e.g. Carrefour, Wall-Mart).

The packaged or processed food industry is worth almost 1.6 trillion dollars (Euromonitor International). According to The World Bank, the food and agriculture sector makes up 10% of the global GDP (Gross Domestic Product).


  • Murray, Sarah. "The World's Biggest Industry." 15 Nov. 2007. 12 Dec. 2008

  • "logistics." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008.Merriam-Webster Online. 14 December 2008

A.1.10 Discuss the influence of marketpull and technology push on the development of new food products.

With the increased developments of genetic engineering and the advances in biotechnology and planting methods, the needs of the community from food are becoming more complex. Cheaper, longer lasting foods are the source of market pull, in the way that people needed specially adapted and modified crops that would correspond to their needs and survive in their environment. With technology push however, this would bring upon newer food products where food is made according to needs of freshness and quality of food.

A.1.11 Explain that the modern food industry in developed countries is an example of a tightly controlled just-in time system.

In order to get the right amount of food products in the right place at the right time, the food industry in developed countries has evolved into a tightly controlled just-in-time system operating 24 hours a day, every day. Data collection using loyalty cards produces sophisticated databases to understand the precise requirements of different geographical areas.

The food industry uses a system of Just-in-time stock and distribution management in order to preserve the food as long as possible, cover exactly the demand thus not waste food and to incorporate and facilitate the intersections of production, distribution and retailer operations efficiently. Food is a perishable product which can quickly become expired or out of date regarding the time frame of stocking it in warehouses. It is for this reason that JIT is used as to produce and sell exactly the amount corresponding to the demand of the customers. While many countries still have to develop their infrastructure of efficient food production and distribution based on a JIT approach which is further based on customer feedback, most of the European and American markets have implemented and mastered this procedure. These countries have functions running 24 hours a day every day of the week in order to keep the outflow of products equal to the demand of the customers based on research such as loyalty cards and monthly sales records and statistics.

A.1.12 Describe organic agriculture.

Organic agriculture is a system of farming in which organic products and techniques are used and the use of synthetic chemicals, for example, fertilizers and pesticides, is precluded. In some countries, the word “organic” is legally protected; and in others, the term “organic agriculture” is increasingly associated with sustainability.

Organic farming is a form of agriculture significantly relying on crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control. It is also dependent on mechanical cultivation so to keep up the productivity of the soil and the control of pests. The use of fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock feed additives, and genetically modified organisms. is limited. Since 1990 the market for organic products has grown at a rapid pace, on an average of 20-25 percent per year to reach $33 billion in 2005. This demand has driven a similar increase in organically managed farmland. Approximately 306,000 square kilometres (30.6 million hectares) worldwide are now farmed organically, representing approximately 2% of total world farmland.[2] In addition, as of 2005 organic wild products are farmed on approximately 62 million hectares (IFOAM 2007:10). Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, an international umbrella organization for organic organizations established in 1972. The overarching goal of organic farming is defined as follows:

Organic vs non-organic

A.1.13 Explain that organic production is driven by market issues and problems associated with existing agricultural practices.

There is a growing market for organic products commanding a premium price. There have been food scares, for example, related to the use of hormones in beef production or antibiotics in chicken farms. Lifestyle issues also arise here.

In recent years, many socio-economic factors have led to a growing market for organic products. The use of hormones in beef, antibiotics in chicken farms and other chemically and genetically manipulated food practices have not only led to scarcities in food supplies but have also strongly impacted public opinion. Such scandals have motivated people to return buying organic products, despite these being expensive. Furthermore, the fast-growing economies in Asia, such as China, India and Indonesia, have led to a drastic increase in public wealth. This increase in wealth has also led to a return to organic production, since this has now become affordable to millions of people more than before. Apart from these economic factors, there has also been a series of social factors that have led to an increased purchase of organic products. The media for example constantly raises awareness of the importance of living healthily and thinking green. By depicting good looking people eating "healthy" and fat-free food, people start focusing more and more on the importance of a sane and stable diet.


Numbered list and italicised paragraphs are excerpted from Design Technology: guide. Cardiff Wales, UK: International Baccalaureate Organization, 2007. Images are clickable links to its location.

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Page last modified on August 18, 2014, at 08:22 PM