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Behind the ‘creative destruction’ of human diets: An analysis of the structure and market dynamics of the ultra-processed food manufacturing industry and implications for public health
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-05, 01:49 authored by B Wood, O Williams, Phillip BakerPhillip Baker, Gary SacksGary Sacks
A global transition towards diets increasingly dominated by ultra-processed foods (UPFs) has occurred in recent decades to the detriment of public health and the environment. This study aimed to examine long-term trends in the structure and market dynamics of the global UPF manufacturing industry as part of broader efforts to understand the drivers of this transition. Using diverse methods, metrics and data sources, we examined several dimensions (e.g., industry concentration and profitability) according to an adapted structure–conduct–performance model. We found that the global UPF manufacturing industry has evolved to become a major component of global food systems, with its longstanding dominant corporations becoming some of the system's largest accumulators of profit and distributors of capital. It follows that reversing the global UPF dietary transition will require structural and regulatory changes to ensure that population diets, and food systems more broadly, are not subordinated to the interests of powerful for-profit business corporations.