Food production and processing is one of the most essential industries in the world. It provides some 20% of employees ranging from farmers, herders, processors, transportation workers, wholesalers, and retailers. Agriculture production essentially starts with the photosynthesis reactions, which convert carbon dioxide and water into organic matters. The final products include grasses, hay, fruits, vegetables, and grains (e.g., wheat, barley, and corn). The products are then collected, processed, packaged, and distributed for consumption by human beings or as feed for animals that can produce food products such as milk, eggs, and meat. The food industry has a wide scope. According
to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), it consists of nine industrial groups listed in Table 30.1.1 In this chapter, we limit the food industry to food processing operations.
The food industry is also considered as one of the major traditional industries. The United States is the largest producer and consumer of "processed" food products in the world and renders approximately 26% of the world food processing output. The food industry accounts for around one-sixth of the whole manufacturing sector's activities in the United States. The industry is dominated by large-scale, capital-intensive, and highly diversified corporations. There were 26,401 establishments from 22,037 food firms in the United States in 2000, and these firms hired 1,468,254 employees with an annual payroll of more than 43 billion USD.2 However, the market is mainly dominated by the top 20 manufacturers. Food products of more than 460 billion USD are produced every year.3 Meat processing was the largest employer, leading to 30% of workers; fruit and vegetable processing and bakery production are the second and the third, accounting for 13% and 12%, respectively.4
Compared to the "new economy" such as the computer and software industry, the food industry is usually regarded as an "old economy" covering all the basic needs of human beings. Its slow growth has been seen in the last decade; as a result, the industry is under significant reorganization so as to improve its profitability through consolidation, overseas growth, and the introduction of new products. In addition, food manufacturing plants are more automated and integrated to achieve the goals.3,5
It is predicted that the global population will increase to 7.9 billion by 2025, over 80% of whom will live in developing countries and 58% in rapidly growing urban areas6; in response to the rapid population growth and economic development, the demand for food will significantly rise. However, the food industry has a strong relationship with water and wastewater treatment, since water is employed in food processing and is sometimes partially involved as food products while wastewater is produced during the process. Therefore, increasing requirements for food will contribute to a greater more consumption of water for food processing. There are many types of food processing units due to various food products, which can be cataloged into a few sections as illustrated in Figure 30.1. Each of them may become a pollution-creating source with different strengths and quantities.
As one of the top water consumers, the food industry is estimated to account for about 9% of water and wastewater treatment market sales. The wastewater discharged from food manufacturing facilities has become a major concern. In this chapter, we will be discussing a series of physical,
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