potato chips and other junk food on a store shelf in a supermarket

Database Indicates U.S. Food Supply Is 73 Percent Ultra-Processed

Source: Food Tank | by Julia Agostino

Recent research from Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute indicates that 73 percent of the United States food supply is ultra-processed. Based on these findings, the research team built a database of 50,000 foods that helps consumers identify ultra-processed products and find healthier alternatives.

Building off research published in Nature Food, the researchers worked to predict the degree of food processing, outlined in a paper currently under review. A second paper, also under review, explores the prevalence of processed food. Using their findings, the researchers constructed a database containing over 50,000 food items across Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods Market. The database indicates that 73 percent of the U.S. food supply is ultra-processed and suggests that ultra-processed foods are 52 percent cheaper than less processed alternatives, on average.

The findings shocked Giulia Menichetti, Senior Research Scientist at the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University, and senior author of the papers.