While agriculture is considered one of the most basic types and natural ways of obtaining food, many individuals may not realize how much work is being put into researching and developing new and improved ways to maximize the output, preserve freshness, improve flavor, and even increase consumer consumption of various products found on today's markets. In addition to improving the various foods already offered to consumers, many companies are also working hard at developing completely new food products, as well as new means of their production. In fact, the various technology trends in today's food industry can be split into three categories: product innovation, various improvements of already available products, and finding new or more environmentally-friendly means of food production.
Product innovation is rather self-explanatory, and any consumer who has ever been to a large supermarket has experienced it in some form. Any food product - from cereal and protein bars to potato chips and soda - comes is offered by many different manufacturers and in many different packages meant to catch the interest of as many consumers as possible. Every year, small changes are made to the appearance of various popular products, even if the actual ingredients stay completely the same. While such approach may seem rather simplistic at first, this type of product innovation is meant to take advantage of human psychology, and food companies routinely spend millions of dollars on processes meant to improve the visual appeal or packaging of their products and most of these businesses consider it money well spent.
The second type of innovation found in today's food industry is the improvement of actual taste and nutritional value of different food products. Many food processing companies in the United States are trying to get a head-start on their competition, and are routinely advertising their products as healthier or better tasting alternatives. For example, many food companies specializing in the production of sugar-based snacks are no longer manufacturing their products using high-fructose corn syrup and are instead using other sweeteners to attract customers. However, whether such new practices decisively result in healthier products is a topic of much debate, as substituting high fructose corn syrup with another similar sugar has shown no discernable benefit in terms of reducing the rate of childhood obesity and type II diabetes.
Finally, another new trend in the food industry concerns itself with using more environmentally friendly means of food production. Given the various ecological issues such as the negative effects of global warming, or the use of various pesticides by farmers to maximize the output of their crops, many individuals are choosing to purchase food products that are grown completely organically without the use of any additives. While these organically grown food products do show much lower levels of pesticides, there currently appears to be no nutritional benefit to the consumer from consuming such foods over products grown using more conventional means.