Why and how processed food is cheaper than healthy and unprocessed food?

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Why and how processed food is cheaper than healthy and unprocessed food?

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Processed food swaps out some of the more expensive parts for cheaper fillers. Like taking adding bread crumbs/flour to a meat mixture.

Sometimes that complete healthy unprocessed food can make more money to the manufacturer by selling it in two parts. Just like skimming milk and selling as milk, plus cream, that can be done to many foods.

Other than being very close to a farm, or growing things in the backyard, there is always the problem of keeping food safe, palatable and also transportable. All of this reduces wastage.

Processing does not equate to unhealthy. And properly processed food can more easily be transported, is less prone to spoilage and waste and can be done at scale – all of which although more costly up front, results in lower prices to the consumer.

There is a lot that goes into this. Things like which crops are subsidized, what additives are used, transport cost, shelf life, product buy backs, and a lot of others factors. For example, fresh vegetables are harder to transport than canned vegetables, because they go bad easier. The supplier is usually liable for any product that goes bad, so to protect their profit they use climate controlled trailers to transport them, so the transport cost is already higher than for canned vegetables.

One of the big reasons is that unprocessed food spoils faster. Without a preservative or two, it can’t just sit on a shelf for a month. When your inventory becomes worthless in a shorter amount of time, you lose money to spoilage and you have to sell your stuff for a higher price to make up for that.

Processed food can use cheaper ingredients and it isn’t just the filler.

Bananas are a great example. The EU classifies bananas as Class A, B or C. Despite what idiots might tell you class B and C aren’t banned and the differences are almost entirely cosmetc, but when you put class B bananas on the shelf next to class A the class A bananas all get bought, while the class B are left on the shelf to rot.

So, class B bananas are cheaper than class A. However if you are making smoothies then you have no need for the nice looking bananas and can buy all the cheap, wonky ones. This then applies to all the ingredients. Cuts of meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables.

Combine that with swapping out ingredients for filler, the fact that pre-cooking (in the case of a ready meal) removes nutrition, long term storage removes nutrition and so on you end up with a cheap meal that has much lower nutrition than if you cooked the same meal yourself.