Xavier Gellynck, Wim Verbeke and Jacques Viaene INTRODUCTION The food processing industry covers a range of heterogeneous activities, varying from animal slaughtering through vegetable canning to water bottling. It includes all businesses that process agricultural commodities and manufacture food products. The common element within this large variety of activities is that the end goal is food consumption (Audroing 1995). Food processing is traditionally seen as being closely linked to farming and to domestic household activities. Many food processing activities, such as butter or cheese making, were originally performed at the farm and skills such as pickling and baking were traditionally mainly found in domestic kitchens (Connor and Schiek 1997). Over the last ﬁve decades, the ‘distance’ between farming and processing on the one hand, and between farmer and consumer on the other, has lengthened. This has meant that food processing has now become quite similar to the rest of manufacturing. The study of the EU food processing industry is important for a number of reasons: ● ● Over the past three to four decades, the food business has become much more competitive as the result of monetary and economic integration. The reduction of both trade barriers and subsidies to producers of agricultural and food products (Yon and Bernaud 1993; Grunert 1997) have been important factors in this process. As one of the largest sectors within the EU economy, the food processing industry therefore represents an important case study in dynamic change. Food processing is strongly linked to the agricultural sector, which in...
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