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A huge, multifaceted aggregate of those businesses that supply food are collectively part of the food industry. The industry spans from those who farm to those who distribute the packaged food. This expansive network includes those who market food in all its forms for consumption. The food industry does not include beverages or their distribution.
Within the food industry, all farmers are considered a part of the industry, excluding only subsistence farmers. Subsistence farmers are those who live off what they grow, and they do not sell their produce for profit. Farmers include not only those who grow crops but also those who raise livestock and who raise fish for wholesale. Within the farming sector of the industry is the manufacturing branch, which includes all things necessary for achieving a successful crop.
Once cultivated, the food is then processed. The industry also includes those businesses that prepare the food for consumption. This includes packaging and then the marketing of the goods.
The next level in the industry, once the food is ready for direct consumption, is distribution. The distributors are responsible for bringing the packaged goods to wholesalers and retailers. The transportation necessary for distribution falls within the confines of the food industry as well. Once shelved, the food is on its way to the consumers.
The industry, however, does not stop its work when the food is in the hands of the consumer. Behind the scenes, the industry also includes the research and development of providing better quality food. The lobbyists and regulators who work to ensure that standards are consistently met and adhered to are also a part of the industry.
Food industry technologies are developing and growing at a rapid rate. Biotechnology, the high-tech end of the food industry, is focused on improving modern food production. Along with this, agricultural machinery is being constantly updated and developed to ensure more and fresher food as the world's demands on the industry continue to increase.
Within the United States alone, the food industry is responsible for approximately $1 trillion US Dollars (USD) of annual expenditures. This number only includes those foods sold within the United States, not those marketed and exported abroad. The food industry continues to grow and evolve as new techniques and standards are created and existing ones are improved upon.