Food Processing for Improved Diets

USAID Advancing Nutrition
Feed the Future
Resource type:
Reports and discussion papers

Processed foods tend to have a bad reputation. In reality, a lot of the food that we consume daily requires some form of processing to be palatable. Food processing ranges from simple techniques used by individuals (for example cutting, washing, milling) to large-scale industry operations that involve cutting-edge science and technology. 

This brief describes how food processing can improve diets, how it fits within USAID’s multi-sectoral food security and nutrition strategies, and what to consider when implementing food processing activities to improve diets and nutrition. While the brief mainly targets USAID and its implementing partners, it will be useful to organisations designing and implementing food processing activities for improved diets and nutrition.

Key Messages

Food processing:

  • is at the center of food supply and demand. It can improve diets by linking production to consumption within the food system, offering great potential to increase year-round availability and affordability of safe, nutritious foods.
  • can take a variety of forms; contextual considerations are key to determining suitable foods and best approaches for processing in a given food system.
  • when planned and executed properly, can simultaneously enhance diets, provide income generation opportunities, and promote resilience.

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This resource presents evidence or data but has not been peer reviewed