The necessity of food and food products for human survival guarantees that the food industry, which has directed the course of human history, will never die out. Traditionally, agriculture has been an important part of the food industry and is a key factor in its development. In Asia and Africa, many developing countries have rich agricultural histories along with unique food cultures. By comparison, America is rare, in that it has advanced technology in food production despite a relatively short agricultural history.

For most of human history, food was produced and consumed based on immediate need and constituted humanity, food was produced aVarious food cultures developed related to ethnicity, religions, climates, seasons, and available ingredients [1]  and [2] . It has been less than a few centuries since secondary industries, such as factories, were created, and food production and processing technologies continued to develop in the 20th century as part of the overall development of secondary industries. As mass production, supported by large amounts of capital, guaranteed high volume of sales, many countries invested in research and development (R&D) of production and processing technology. Mass production based on automated manufacturing systems was considered the only way to succeed. Until the 1980s, the food industry followed this trend, with America at the center, focusing on developing technology to maximize the production of food that was high in calories. Although food produced in America is competitively priced, the demand for these products has been continuously decreasing in the global market. Moreover, the obesity rate in America has grown and is currently the highest in the world.

Technological advances in automated manufacturing, standardization, and sterilization proceeded rapidly over the past century. However, in the 1980s, the food industry began to decline, with advanced technology no longer guaranteeing high-volume sales. This decline was due to a loss of core values within the food industry. Food is connected to many aspects of well-being, such as leisure, culture, and health, beyond caloric intake. As the food economy undergoes a transition from the secondary to the tertiary sector, the food industry will need to consider more than just technology and product development.

In order to attract both domestic and international consumers, the food industry needs to shift R&D away from the secondary industry, where it concentrates on products and technology. New R&D for the tertiary industry needs to focus on providing services associated with food. Further research is needed on how to create value in food services that relate to traditional knowledge, health, culture, and history. In this new environment, the development of meaningful content becomes a key factor of success in the food industry. Ethnic foods that are developed using unique methods and environments related to particular population groups will grow in value that needs to be identified and preserved. The Journal of Ethnic Foods can serve as a model of how to demonstrate the value of ethnic food. The appreciation of ethnic foods and their rich agricultural histories can be the first step of a new food industry. By not only utilizing modern technology, but also drawing on deeper values, ethnic food has great potential to thrive in the global food marketplace.

Conflicts of interest

The author declares no conflicts of interest.


  1. [1] S.H. Kim, M.S. Kim, M.S. Lee, Y.S. Park, H.J. Lee, S.A. Kang, H.S. Lee, K.E. Lee, H.J. Yang, M.J. Kim, Y.E. Lee, D.Y. Kwon; Korean Diet: characteristics and historical background; J Ethn Foods, 3 (2016), pp. 26–31
  2. [2] C.Y. Ng, S.A. Karim; Historical and contemporary perspectives of the Nyonya food culture in Malaysia; J Ethn Foods, 3 (2016), pp. 93–106
Back to Top

Document information

Published on 20/10/16

Licence: Other

Document Score


Views 22
Recommendations 0

Share this document

claim authorship

Are you one of the authors of this document?