General Insights

Food Processing Vs Manufacturing

Scott Williams
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There is one significant difference between foods processing and food manufacturing, which is what each industry does to a given food product. Foods processing takes a raw product and turns it into an ingredient, while food manufacturers purchase ingredients and use them within a product.

Food processing and manufacturing are done in plants or factories, and sometimes both industries occur on the same site. However, the duties of manufacturers versus food processors differ in their day to day operations.

Food Processing:

Food processing is the transformation process of converting food into another type of food. Food processing includes many kinds of processing foods, from crushing grains to making raw flour to simple cooking to more complex industrial methods used to manufacture convenience foods.

Some food processes help reduce food waste and improve food preservation, thus reducing our total environmental impact and improving food security. Processed foods are generally thought to be inferior to unprocessed foods.

Primary Processing

Primary food processing involves turning raw materials into edible items. Processing helps make food safe for consumption. Examples include processing raw wheat kernels, shelling nuts, butchering livestock, freezing and smoking fish, extracting or filtering oils and many more!

Many different types of processing are needed to turn raw materials into finished goods.

Contaminants and spoilage can occur during this process. Some methods help improve food safety.

Secondary Processing

Secondary food processing is when you take something that isn’t edible yet and turns it into something we can eat. Bread is an excellent example of this. It takes flour, water, salt, yeast, and some other things, and makes it into a delicious loaf of bread, mincemeat, an output from primary processing to produce your everyday beef burgers etc.

Tertiary Processing

Tertiary food processing is the commercial production of processed food. These are heat-and-servers, such as canned vegetables, frozen foods, and other packaged products such as bringing together components for ready meals (the meat, the veg, the gravy etc.)

History of Processing

Food processing started long ago in the prehistoric ages, when processing included fermenting, sun drying, preserving with salt and various types of cooking. Processed foods are now available everywhere.

Some examples of processed foods are chips, canned vegetables, frozen meals, and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. Canned food is safe and nutritious because it is preserved using heat. Pasteurised food, wine, beer and Milk, for example, are safe and healthy.

In the 20th century, world war 2, the space race, and the rising consumer society in developed nations contributed to the growth of processed foods. Such advancements as spray drying, evaporating, juicing concentrates, freeze-drying, and the introduction of artificial flavours, colours, and sweeteners helped make these foods more appealing.

Products like dried instant soup, reconstituted fruit and juices, and self-cooking meals like MREs (Meal Ready To Eat) were developed. Automatic appliances like microwaves, blenders, and rotimatics paved the way for convenience cooking.

With the introduction of frozen foods, people started buying processed food instead of cooking meals themselves. People were more likely to buy ready-made food because it was easier to cook than making something fresh. Processed food freed people from a lot of time in preparing and cooking “natural” unprocessed foods. This trend continues today.

Benefits of Processed Foods

Food processing benefits include toxin removal, preservation (of perishable items), ease of marketing and distribution, and increased food consistency.

Modern supermarkets wouldn’t exist without modern food processing methods. Long voyages could not be made if we didn’t process our food. Some foods are more susceptible to spoilage than others, but processed foods are generally less susceptible to spoilage than fresh foods.

Most people prefer processed foods over fresh foods because of these benefits. Processing food makes it safer to eat. Raw meat is more dangerous than processed meat. Transporting food across oceans makes it less safe to eat.

Considerable profit potential exists for food manufacturers and suppliers. People see a benefit in convenience when eating processed food.

Drawbacks of Processed Foods

Foods processed by heating or cooking lose some of their nutritional value. Cooking also makes them easier to digest. If you eat too much-cooked food, your body may not absorb as many vitamins and minerals as it should.

Processing by specific methods like pasteurisation, cooking, and drying can destroy or inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.

Sweeteners, preservatives, and stabilisers are dangerous because they may cause health problems if consumed in excess. Some foods contain these additives while others do not.

Food processing is a mechanical process that uses extrusion, large mixing and grinding equipment. Contamination risks include leftover materials from previous operations (animal or human bodily fluids), microorganisms, and non-metal and metallic fragments.

Metal contaminants introduced during processing include small to large metal pieces. Industrial metal detectors are used to detect and reject metal fragments automatically. Large food processors use many metal detectors throughout the processing stream to reduce damage to processing machinery and risk to consumer health.

Food processing makes food last longer and makes it easier to eat. But processed foods can also cause health problems. A diet high in fats, sugars, and sodium can increase the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Added Sodium

Most processed foods have high levels of sodium. Salt is used as a preservative and flavouring agent in many processed foods. Too much sodium can cause health problems such as high blood pressure.

Added Sugar

Overeating sugar may increase your chances of getting high blood pressure, obesity, cavities, and type 2 diabetes. You should eat less sugar if you want to lose weight.

Nutrient Losses

Processing foods often involves nutrient losses. Using high heat during processing can lead to vitamin C losses. Refined grains have less fibre, vitamins, and minerals than whole grains, and eating them instead of whole grains could increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Trans Fats

Foods that undergo processing often include trans fats. These foods should be avoided if you want to stay healthy. Trans fats raise your chances of having high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke.

Other Disadvantages

Processed foods may take more energy to digest than whole food. Preservatives and other additives can be hazardous for people with allergies or sensitivities.


A manufacturer purchases ingredients and mixes them to make a finished product. They are responsible for creating a product that meets all of the specifications required by the customer. For example, they might create a pizza crust with the right amount of flour, water, salt, yeast, etc. Then they would bake it until it was cooked through. It’s important to note that manufacturing can also include packaging and labelling and other services such as warehousing and shipping.

Food processing generally occurs at the farm level, whereas manufacturing happens at the retail level.


In conclusion, food processing takes raw ingredients like fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products and turns them into finished foods like juices, soups, yoghurts, and cheeses. On the other hand, food manufacturers specialise in creating processed foods from scratch. They use their chemistry, engineering, and science expertise to create items such as bread, cereals, snacks, and beverages.

While both processes can produce delicious and nutritious meals, the main difference between them is that food processors focus on using natural ingredients to create wholesome dishes. In contrast, food manufacturers rely heavily on artificial additives and preservatives to ensure that their products stay fresh and safe.

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