Food additives play a number of important roles in the production, distribution, storage, and availability of food and beverage products. Most food additives serve multiple functions, many of which help create a more efficient and streamlined food supply. For example, food gums are used to help stabilize and thicken food products, which in turn prevents spoilage and extends shelf-life, ultimately reducing food waste. But the benefits don’t stop there. Improved shelf-life also positively impacts the cost and convenience of food – for consumers and for the food industry.
Consumer Affordability & Convenience
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, the average American spends just under 10% of their disposable income on food. For those with lower income, food can represent up to 35% of their total pay. With those numbers in mind, it’s incredibly important that consumers get the most out of what they buy which means that much of the food they purchase needs to remain fresh as long as possible to avoid it from going bad before it is consumed. Foods with a longer shelf-life don’t need to be rushed to the store for immediate purchase and consumption, and many do not need to be refrigerated or frozen to stay fresh. As a result, these foods tend to be less expensive and consumers can spend less to get more and keep their pantry full. Food additives enable families to enjoy safe and nutritious diets while not being financially weighed down by food expenses.
Food additives also provide vitamins, essential nutrients, and more which helps consumers reach sufficient nutritional levels without having to spend extra money. For instance, carrageenan is used to stabilize liquid infant formula, preventing separation of important vitamins and minerals and ensuring consistent nutrient delivery. Monocalcium phosphate is a source of both calcium and phosphorus in baked goods, which helps strengthen bones and cells. Cellulose gum is considered a source of dietary fiber, which has been identified as a nutrient concern because it is underconsumed, so can be added to foods to help consumers improve their fiber intake and fill the “fiber gap”.
Affordability in the Supply Chain
On a national and global scale, additives make food more affordable to produce, and the production and distribution of food more efficient. Because they extend shelf-life, food manufacturers don’t have to take on a heavier burden of moving product as soon as it is produced or in some cases refrigerating product, which lowers production, storage, and transportation costs. Without food additives, the production and distribution of food would need to change to adjust to more limited shelf life. This would result in more costs to produce food, which would trickle down to the prices we pay at the store.
Not only do food additives improve the taste, quality and texture of our food and drinks, they also improve the cost of food by ensuring that products maintain their value for longer periods of time, benefitting producers, distributors, retailers, and consumers.
A More Sustainable, Affordable Food Market
Food additives make food products, and thus the food supply, safer, more sustainable, and more affordable. The qualities of various food additives help make dollars go farther by supporting and maintaining food value.
In addition, additives make the process of buying, selling, and storing food more convenient for all. Without them, families and individuals would be spending more time, and money, making frequent grocery store visits to avoid food spoilage. Aside from the convenience it provides to our wallets and routines, food additives also make sufficient dietary and nutritional intake more convenient in an affordable, reliable, and easy way.