Newsletter no 55 – Editorial

Ultra-processed food, a “corporate diet”

Illustrations: Nikau Hindin, Obesity and Junk Food, 2009, @nikaugabrielle

The past 60 years have seen an exponential rise in the production and consumption of ultra-processed ‘food’–or rather, edible–products (UPP), such as packaged crisps, biscuits, sweetened beverages, and ready-to-eat meals. Driven by an expansion of the industrial food system, including global sourcing and retail structures, and corporate concentration and power within this system, UPP are replacing fresh and minimally processed foods and home-cooked meals in our diets.  Dietary patterns are becoming increasingly homogenized and culinary traditions are disappearing. This shift started in high income countries and has now reached all countries, in some making up over 50 percent of what people eat.[1] 

This edition of the Nyéléni newsletter explores how the ‘corporate diet’ based on UPP is being imposed in different regions of the world and what this means for people’s health and food sovereignty. It further provides examples of resistance, from the recovery of traditional crops to the struggle for effective regulatory measures. What is clear is that to reclaim sovereignty over our plates we must look beyond our plates and reshape the food system as a whole.

FIAN International and AFSA 

[1] Global Food Research Program, 2023. Ultra-processed foods: a global threat to public health and Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria, 2022, Planeta Ultraprocesado: Los riesgos para la salud y el medio ambiento de los productos ultraprocesados