Professor University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, Massachusetts
For many years, consumers have made food purchasing decisions based on taste, value, convenience and nutritional content. More recently, food sustainability has also become an important factor in consumer choice as concerns about how food production impact the environment grows. Commercial food production has a long history of food sustainability. This is due to the high energy efficiency of food processing equipment, effective handling of waste produced during production and processing operations and ingredients that increase shelf-life and thus decrease food waste at the consumer level. This high level of sustainability has contributed to a low-cost food supply that is now less than 10% of discretionary spending. Despite this, there is a perception that commercially produced foods are unhealthy and many of these foods have recently been characterized as ultraprocessed. The relationship of ultraprocessed to health has not been linked to processing operations but instead is more related to food formulation. This improper characterization can discourage the consumption of important nutrients such as whole grains, calcium and folate and can increase meal costs. More work is needed to help consumers understand the advantages of commercially produced foods and how they can be part of a healthy diet.
Presentation Talking Points: 1. Commercial production of foods is highly sustainable due to low energy costs and food waste compared to home cooking. 2. Commercial food production is critical in decreasing the cost of the food supply 3. The impact of ultraprocessed foods on health is not related to processing operations but instead food formulations.