Global Food Industry

World food retail sales generate over $4 trillion per year. The food industry encompasses several categories of food including: dairy, seafood, eggs, fruit and vegetables, luxury foods, organic food, meat, packaged food, condiments, and cereal-based products. The industry has evolved greatly over the past twenty years thanks to technological advances, keeping pace with growing demand for convenience foods. This sector calls for greater demand for packaging to ensure safe, fresh, easy-to-use products. Demand for better quality foods and in greater quantity means the food industry drives several other industries such as convenience stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets and gasoline outlets with grocery sections. Supermarkets and hypermarkets represent the biggest market share in terms of sales.

Food retail is dominated by outfits in the EU and the US, growing their market share in emerging nations and small retailers accounting for an increasing share of food sales. The 15 leading global supermarket companies represent around one third of global supermarket sales. The industry is not concentrated, with the 50 leading food manufacturers representing under a fifth of world packaged food sales. Food manufacturers are developing specialized product lines to remain competitive and direct growth rather than the traditional approach of diversifying product portfolios. Regional markets and product lines may be concentrated, though the global food industry is not. Areas exhibiting market concentration include sales of branded goods such as baby food and breakfast cereal. 

Key Market Segments

  • The world fruit and vegetables market is predicted to reach in excess of $736 billion in 2015, representing 25% growth in the five-year period, according to MarketLine. The fruit and vegetables market will produce over 690 million tons by 2015, up 5% on 2010. Vegetables lead the segment at almost 64%. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for over 45% of the overall market.

  • Demand for frozen food will drive the market to over $228,000 million by 2015, reports MarketLine, up nearly 19% on 2010. The segment will represent a volume of almost 43,500 million kilograms in 2015, or over 14% more than in 2010. Meat leads the segment at over 40% of overall market value. The EU holds close to 38% of the market. Brasil Foods is the world leader in the frozen foods market, accounting for 5% of overall market share.

  • The world market for muscle food packaging, which encompasses meat, seafood and poultry packaging, is expected to exceed $31 billion by 2017, according to Global Industry Analysts. Technological advances, better packaging practices and packaging facilitating smaller portions are fuelling the market.

  • The global canned food market is expected to reach almost $93 million in 2015, according to MarketLine. In terms of volume, the market will increase over 10% in the five-year period ending in 2015 to over 23,000 million kilograms. Meat products lead the market representing a quarter of overall value. The EU represents close to half of the overall world market for canned food. Del Monte Foods is the world leader in canned food, holding over 5% of the overall market.

  • The world lactic acid market is predicted to reach almost $329 thousand metric tons by 2015, reports Global Industry Analysts. The dairy market is fuelled by end-use market demand and new product applications. The industry has fared the global economic crisis well, showing strong growth.

Market Outlook

An increasing global population and a shift towards convenience food continue to push the industry forward. Changing habits in food culture mean varied tastes increasing demand for ethnic foods and newer formats such as microwaveable food products. Convenience is key as consumer demand focuses on processed, ready-to-eat, packaged goods. Demand exceeds supply in certain food markets such as lactic acid in industrial applications in food and the beverages market.

Though the US may have traditionally topped food output, production in India, Russia and China has been climbing steadily. As food prices continue to rise due to higher oil prices and drought in grain producing regions, scarcity has become a central concern in the food industry. To promote independence, nations are concentrating on meeting domestic demand for food. Governments have begun snapping up agricultural land in other countries to grow food crops for domestic markets, with Asia and the Middle East buying farmland in African nations such as Ethiopia.

Moving forward environmental concerns will lead to growth in green packaging and organic foods. The industry will equally concentrate on safety measures following concern over potential health risks from food such as mad cow disease.