TopicsTopics

Stay Connected

Follow ERS on Twitter
Subscribe to RSS feeds
Subscribe to ERS e-Newsletters.aspx
Listen to ERS podcasts
Read ERS blogs at USDA

Glossary

Glossary

The definitions below clarify terms used in this data product and related materials.

Added sugars

Sugars and syrups that are added to foods during processing or preparation. Added sugars do not include naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in milk and fruit.

Beginning stocks

Existing supplies of a farm commodity that consist of remaining stock carried over from the previous year's production.

Boneless, trimmed-weight equivalent

In this data system, red meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb, and mutton), poultry (chicken and turkey), and fish estimates are fairly comparable. For most of these products, the measure excludes bones, edible offals, and game consumption. Boneless trimmed poultry includes skin, neck, and giblets but excludes chicken used for commercially prepared pet food.

Breaking-use for eggs

Eggs for markets that provide egg products for the food processing industry and pasteurized liquid eggs for the foodservice industry.

Broilers

Mature, young chicken of either sex produced for meat. The terms "broilers," "fryers," and "young chickens" are used interchangeably.

Bushel

A unit of measure containing 2,150.42 cubic inches.

Carcass-weight equivalent (CWE)

The weight of meat cuts and meat products converted to an equivalent weight of a dressed carcass. Includes bone, fat, tendons, ligaments, and inedible trimmings (whereas product weight may or may not).

Cereals

Generic name for certain grasses that produce edible seeds. Also used for certain products made from the seeds. Cereals include wheat, rice, and coarse grains such as oats, barley, rye, millet, corn, and sorghum grain.

Consumer weight

In the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data series in the Food Availability Data System, the weight of the product (annual, per capita) as it is purchased at the retail level for use by consumers for at-home consumption or as it is purchased by food services or institutions for away-from-home consumption (for example, at restaurants, fast food outlets, hospitals, and schools). It is the weight after retail-level losses have been subtracted. The consumer weight is the weight of the food before losses at the consumer level (for example, inedible share and other cooking loss and uneaten food) have been subtracted.

Consumption

In economics, the using up of goods or services or the amount used up. In common usage, consumption can also mean the ingestion of food by eating or drinking. In ERS's Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System, the food availability and the nutrient availability series provide estimates of the amount of food and nutrients used up; the loss-adjusted food availability series provides estimates of food intake or the amount of food eaten or ingested.

Conversion factors

There are different types of conversion factors. One type is used to convert raw agricultural commodities into consumer products--for example, converting beef from a carcass weight to a boneless weight or converting a dozen shell eggs to kilograms of dried eggs. These factors may change over time in response to changes in agricultural production and marketing practices. In contrast, conversion factors for weights and measures for agricultural commodities and their products are constant over time. For example, 2 pints of liquid always equal 1 quart.

Copra

Dried coconut meat used to extract coconut oil.

Corn gluten

The byproduct of wet milling corn.

Crop year

The year in which a crop is harvested in contrast to the marketing year. For wheat, barley, and oats, the crop year is June 1 to May 31. For corn, sorghum, and soybeans, it is October 1 to September 30, and for cotton, peanuts, and rice, it is August 1 to July 31.

Crush

The process of extracting oil from oilseeds using solvents.

Cup equivalent (cup eq)

A standard of comparison for comparable amounts of various fruits, vegetables, and milk products. In the fruit and vegetable groups, a cup eq is the amount of a food considered equivalent to 1 cup of a cut-up fruit or vegetable; in the milk group, one cup eq is the amount of food considered equivalent to 1 cup of milk.

Dextrose

A sugar found in plant and animal tissue and derived synthetically from starch.

Dietary fiber

Nonstarch polysaccharide and lignin that are not digested by enzymes in the small intestine. Dietary fiber typically refers to nondigestible carbohydrates from plant foods.

Dietary guidelines

Guidelines developed every 5 years by USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, emphasizing variety, balance, and moderation in the total diet without making recommendations regarding specific foods to include or exclude. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 provides recommendations based on gender, age, and level of physical activity.

Ending stocks

The remainder of current crop production carried over into the next crop year.

Endive

A variety of chicory used in salads. There are two main varieties, curly endive (or frisée) and escarole.

Escarole

A variety of chicory or endive that has broad leaves and is used in salads.

Farm weight

The weight of a commodity as measured on the farm before further conditioning and processing.

Farmhouse cheese

Cheese made by the same producer of the milk. For relatively small quantities, cheese is commonly made from raw/unpasteurized milk due to pasteurization costs.

Filberts

An edible tree nut that is eaten raw, roasted, or ground into paste. They are often used in containers of mixed nuts. They are in the same species as hazelnuts and are often called hazelnuts.

Food group

A set of food items grouped together based on similarities in nutrient content and/or use by consumers and identified as a group for dietary guidance. In MyPlate, the basic food groups are "grains"--bread, rice, and pasta; "fruits;" "vegetables;" "milk and milk products"--milk, yogurt, and cheese; and "meat and beans"--meat, poultry, fish, dry edible beans/dry peas and lentils, eggs, and nuts.

Food loss

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, food loss means "any change in the availability, edibility, wholesomeness or quality of the food that prevents it from being consumed by people." In the ERS Food Availability Data System, food loss represents the edible amount of food, postharvest, that is available for human consumption but is not consumed for any reason. It includes cooking loss and natural shrinkage (for example, moisture loss); loss from mold, pests, or inadequate climate control; and food waste. Also see food waste.

Food pattern equivalent

A standardized amount of food, such as a cup or an ounce, used to provide dietary guidance or to make comparisons among similar foods.

Food subgroup

A distinct subset of foods within a food group with specified similarities and a recommended quantity for consumption. In the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, the vegetable group is composed of the following subgroups: dark-green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables. The grain group is composed of whole grains and refined grains subgroups.

Food waste

Food waste is a component of food loss and occurs when an edible item goes unconsumed, as in food discarded by retailers due to color or appearance and plate waste by consumers. The ERS Food Availability Data System is used to estimate food loss and not food waste (a subset of food loss). Also see food loss.

Fresh-weight equivalent

The weight of processed fruit and vegetables converted to an equivalent weight of fresh produce. Varies widely from season to season and among localities.

Grain-equivalent basis

Because data for grain, flour, and selected grain products are reported in different measures (for example, metric tons for grain exports and kilograms for flour), it is often necessary to convert these to a common measure for total use calculations or comparison purposes. For example, the flour and selected products are first converted to grain-equivalent kilograms-the quantity of wheat grain that would have to be milled to produce 1 kilogram of flour or wheat product. Then the grain-equivalent data are converted to bushels. The factors for the conversion are 2.204622 pounds per kilogram and 60 pounds per bushel.

Hazelnuts

An edible tree nut that is eaten raw, roasted, or ground into paste. They are often used in containers of mixed nuts. They are in the same species as filberts and are often called filberts.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

Corn syrup that has been processed to increase the fructose content and then blended with pure corn syrup.

Hundredweight

One hundred pounds.

Kiwifruit

The small, fuzzy vine fruit native to Asia. A type of berry.

Landings

Quantities of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic plants and animals brought ashore and sold. Commercial landings of fish may be in terms of round (live) weight or dressed weight. Landings of crustaceans are generally on a live-weight basis except for shrimp, which may be on a heads-on or heads-off basis. Mollusks are generally landed with the shell on, but for some species only the meats are landed, such as sea scallops. Data for all mollusks are published on a meat-weight basis.

Leading cheeses

In this data system, leading cheeses refer to Cheddar, Mozzarella, Swiss, cream, and Neufchâtel.

Leading meat

In this data system, leading meat refers to beef, pork, and chicken.

Legumes

A family of plants including many valuable food and forage species, such as peas, beans, soybeans, peanuts, clovers, alfalfas, and sweetclovers. In this data system, the term "legumes" includes pinto beans, navy beans, great northern beans, red kidney beans, dry lima beans, black beans, and other beans (blackeye, garbanzo, small white, small red, pink, cranberry, and other beans not elsewhere classified), plus dry peas and lentils.

Liveweight

The weight of an animal before it is slaughtered.

Long ton

A measure of weight equal to 2,240 pounds, or 1,016 kilograms. See also Metric Ton and Short Ton.

Loss at the consumer level

In the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data series in the Food Availability Data System, includes losses for food consumed at home and away from home (for example, restaurants, fast food outlets) by consumers and food services. Losses at the consumer level have two components:

(a) "Nonedible share" of a food (for example, asparagus stalk, apple core). Data on the nonedible share is from the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

(b) "Cooking loss and uneaten food such as plate waste" from the edible share.  This measure is given as the percent or share of food available at the consumer level.

Loss from primary to retail weight

In the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data series in the Food Availability Data System, this type of loss measures the percent or share of food loss between the primary weight (in most cases, the farm weight) and the retail weight.

Loss at the retail level

In the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data series in the Food Availability Data System, the loss in supermarkets, megastores such as Walmart, and other retail outlets, including convenience stores and mom-and-pop grocery stores. This type of loss does not include losses in restaurants and other foodservice outlets because that is captured in the "loss at the consumer level." This measure is the percent or share of food available at the retail to consumer level.

Lowfat

In the ERS Food Availability Data System, lowfat milk has a maximum of 3 grams or less of total fat per serving equivalent.

Lower fat

In the ERS Food Availability Data System, lower fat milk has 2 percent or less total milkfat.

Marketing year

The 12-month period following harvest during which a commodity may be sold domestically, exported, or put into reserve stocks. The year varies by country and commodity.

Meal

The coarsely ground and sifted grains of a cereal grass; the solid residue left after extracting oil from oilseeds (for example, cornmeal).

Measurement ton

A measure of volume generally equal to 40 cubic feet (1 cubic meter). Also known as cargo or freight ton.

Metric ton

A measure of weight equal to 2,204.6 pounds, or 1,000 kilograms. See also Long Ton or Short Ton.

Milo

U.S. term for grain sorghum.

MyPlate

A set of information and tools to help consumers follow the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. The Food Guidance System includes food intake patterns, print and Web-based consumer materials, interactive tools, and information for professionals.

Nonedible share

In the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data series in the Food Availability Data System, that portion of a food commodity that is not normally consumed, such as an asparagus stalk, apple core, peach pit, or chicken bones.  Data on the nonedible share are from the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, compiled by ARS.

Nonfat dry milk (NDM)

Dried skim milk containing no more than 1.5 percent fat and 5 percent moisture. Includes buttermilk powder but not whey powder.

Offals

Offals are the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal, such as the liver and kidneys, that are used for human consumption.

Oils

Fats that are liquid at room temperature, such as vegetable oils used in cooking. Oils come from a variety of plants and from fish. Some common oils are corn, soybean, canola, cottonseed, olive, safflower, sunflower, walnut, and sesame oil. Some foods are naturally high in oils, like nuts, olives, some fish, and avocados. Most oils are high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. A few plant oils, including coconut oil and palm kernel oil, are high in saturated fats and, for nutritional purposes, should be considered to be solid fats. Oils that have been partially hydrogenated contain trans fatty acids and, for nutritional purposes, should also be considered as solid fats. While oils are not considered a food group, recommended amounts of oils are included in the MyPlate food intake patterns because oils are a major source of essential fatty acids and vitamin E.

Other loss (cooking loss and uneaten food)

In the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data series in the Food Availability Data System, this type of loss includes all of the losses that occur at the consumer level, including plate waste, spoilage, and cooking losses. This type of loss does not include the nonedible share, which is accounted for separately. This measure is on a per capita per year basis.

Other peanut products

Products that are not considered "snack peanuts" or "peanut candy." They are often granulated or grated peanuts used in baking.

Ounce equivalent (oz eq)

A comparable amount of various foods used as a standard of comparison within the grain food group and meat and beans food group. In the grain group, 1 oz eq is the amount of a food considered equivalent to a 1-ounce slice of bread or 1 ounce of dry cereal; in the meat and beans group, 1 oz eq is the amount of food considered equivalent to 1 ounce of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish.

Peanut candy

Made up of shelled peanuts that have sugar added (such as peanut brittle) or chocolate added (such as candy bars).

Per capita

Per person.

Primary weight

In the ERS Food Availability Data System, the weight at a primary distribution level, which is dictated for each commodity by the structure of the marketing system and data availability. In most cases, the primary weight is the farm weight. For meat and poultry, the primary weight is the carcass weight.

Product weight

See retail weight.

Prune

A dried plum.

Pulses

The edible seeds of various legumes, such as peas, beans, and lentils. Also called legumes.

Ready-to-cook (RTC)

Dressed poultry, without feathers, head, feet, and most internal organs. Includes neck and giblets.

Red meat

In this data product, refers to beef, veal, pork, lamb, and mutton. See also Leading Meat.

Refined grains

A grain product that is missing the bran, germ, and/or endosperm (a grain product that is not a whole grain). Many refined grains are enriched with thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and iron and fortified with folate. Refined grains are a subgroup within the grain group.

Render

To extract fat or oil from livestock or poultry by melting down or reprocessing meat, bone, feathers, or other byproducts.

Resident population

Includes all residents (both civilian and Armed Forces) living in the United States. The geographic universe for the resident population is the 50 States and the District of Columbia.

Resident population plus Armed Forces overseas

Includes residents of the United States and members of the Armed Forces on active duty stationed outside the United States. Military dependents and other U.S. citizens living abroad are not included.

Retail weight

The weight of a product as it is sold at the retail level. In the meat trade, retail weight is differentiated from carcass-weight equivalent and may or may not include the weight of bone, fat, or additional water. Also called product weight.

Shoestring potatoes

Dried potatoes made into thin french fry-like shapes that are sold in cans or small bags alongside potato chips in the snack aisle of most grocery stores.

Short ton

A measure of weight equal to 2,000 pounds, or 907 kilograms. See also Long Ton and Metric Ton.

Skim milk

In the ERS Food Availability Data System, skim milk has less than 0.5 grams of total fat.

Snack peanuts

Shelled peanuts often sold in cans or bags. They may be salted or unsalted and dry roasted or honey roasted.

SoFAS

SoFAS are solid fats and added sugars. The limits for calories from SoFAS are the remaining amount of calories in each food pattern after selecting the specified amounts in each food group in nutrient‐dense forms (forms that are fat‐free or low‐fat and with no added sugars).

Solid fats

Fats that are solid at room temperature, such as butter, lard, and shortening. These fats may be visible or may be a constituent of foods such as milk, cheese, meats, or baked products. Solid fats come from many animal foods and can be made from vegetable oils through hydrogenation. Solid fats are generally higher than oils in saturated and/or trans fatty acids. A few plant oils, including coconut oil and palm kernel oil, are high in saturated fats and for nutritional purposes should be considered to be the same as solid fats. Oils that have been partially hydrogenated contain trans fatty acids and for nutritional purposes should also be considered as solid fats.

Sorghum

Also called milo.

Tallow

Edible and inedible rendered bovine and sheep fat, and inedible rendered hog fat. Food uses include salad or cooking oils and margarine.

Ton

A measure of weight equal to 2,000 pounds, or 907 kilograms. Also called short ton. See also Long Ton and Metric Ton. A "ton" is also a measure of volume (see Measurement Ton). Ton is the standard unit of measurement in this data series.

Utilized production

Production that is actually sold-production minus own-farm uses for seed, feed, food, and loss.

Value added

Increased value of a good by further processing. Value-added products include soybean meal and oil, frozen vegetables for retail consumption, and processed meats.

Whey

The liquid part of milk remaining after separation of the curd in cheesemaking. Types: fluid, condensed, and dry.

Whole grains

Foods made from the entire grain seed, usually called the kernel, which consists of the bran, germ, and endosperm. If the kernel has been cracked, crushed, or flaked, it must retain nearly the same relative proportions of bran, germ, and endosperm as the original grain in order to be considered whole grain. Whole grains are a subgroup within the grain group.

Whole milk

In the ERS Food Availability Data System, whole milk has no less than 3.25 percent total milkfat.

Source for Definitions: Adapted from several sources, including USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion 16x16 - PDF.  

Last updated: Friday, October 31, 2014

For more information contact: Jeanine Bentley and Jean C. Buzby