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Food is a basic necessity, and the food industry is central to our way of life.  We need to eat multiple times a day, making food a commodity that means big business!  Certainly restaurants of all kinds are a major contributor to this industry, but the food sector also includes groups such as farming, supermarket distribution, nutrition and dietetics, and genetic engineering.  Farmers grow vegetables, grains, and herbs, and raise animals for sale or home consumption.  Supermarket managers order food and supplies, hire, train, and fire employees, coordinate advertising, and oversee health and safety regulation compliance.  Nutritionists and dietitians work in a variety of settings and counsel individuals on the best eating practices and help plan and prepare nutritious menus.

In response to the needs of a growing population, genetic engineering and chemical research industries have engineered seeds that produce corn and other crops, but do not produce more seeds, mandating the farmer to purchase more seeds from the companies every year.  While some would say that this has allowed more food to be produced at a reduced cost, others would argue that the cost to the farmer is far greater, and many sources of local agriculture are being forced out of business.  This makes it increasingly difficult to purchase food locally and keep costs down because of the need for long distance transportation and shipping.

food in a brown grocery bag Other trends in the food industry include the demand for more organic food production, the removal of trans fat and high fructose corn syrup, and issues surrounding food safety.  Increasingly, consumers are becoming aware of what is put into the food they are eating, and are demanding that harmful additives be banned.  Many chain restaurants have been forced to stop cooking with trans fat, and many producers of baked goods are finding that replacing high fructose corn syrup with a less harmful form of sweetener is a positive selling point.  The Food and Drug Administration of the federal government is responsible for inspecting U.S. poultry and beef suppliers and prompting recalls when safety standards are not met.

People need to eat in times of economic stability and as well as times of economic upheaval, and the issue of providing safe, adequate, nutritious, and affordable food sources for a growing population is one of the more pressing dilemmas facing the food industry today.  For more information related to the food industry, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Food Processing, and Food Business Review.  To find food suppliers in the USA, visit these extensive food product manufacturer and food product retailer directories.

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