Sugars, fats and salt have all been the subject of public health campaigns, but as Rauber says, it’s not always simple to remove them from foods where they serve a chemical function. Take, for instance, emulsions added to low-fat foods to give the mouthfeel of fat, which is widely being regarded as the “sixth taste”. We might need to get used to more processing – though for reasons of public health – in the future as we find ways to keep food fresh and looking its best without these ingredients.
Finding new ways to structure foods will be an important form of food processing in the future, agrees Gibney, as we move towards a plant-based diet. “Plant-based diets are really going to challenge the concept that we are going to process less,” she says. “The nature of having to extract nutrients from plants to create products that consumers will want to taste, feel and smell the same will mean we need to process food. Are we moving away from one kind of food for ethical reasons and moving towards something that is more processed?
“I think that if you look to the future, we are going to have to embrace food processing,” she says.
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