Food Economics Division (FED)
FED conducts economic research and analysis on policy-relevant issues related to the food sector (food safety, food prices, and markets); consumer behavior related to food choices (food consumption, diet quality, and nutrition); and food and nutrition assistance programs (SNAP, WIC, National School Lunch Program). FED also provides data and statistics on food prices, food expenditures, and the food supply chain.
Food Prices and Markets
FED researchers monitor and estimate indicators of individual, household, and market-level food consumption, prices, and expenditures; food marketing costs; and farm-to-retail price spreads. Research also focuses on food processing and distribution as well as trends and developments in food wholesale and retail markets. Topics include the ability of the sector to meet changing consumer demands, the effect of government interventions to facilitate that response, and the effect of government interventions and changes in the sector on consumer and producer welfare.
FED researchers analyze food safety issues, including consumer benefits from risk reduction, economic impacts of foodborne disease, production and other economic tradeoffs in reducing hazards, impacts of proposed regulations and international harmonization, and consumer responses to food safety events.
Food Security and Food Assistance
FED researchers assess the adequacy and effectiveness of the Department’s food and nutrition assistance programs, including SNAP, WIC, and the National School Lunch Program. FED research is particularly focused on household food security, determinants of program participation, outcomes of program participation, and the linkages with the agricultural sector and general economy.
Consumer Behavior, Food Consumption, and Nutrition
FED researchers examine the demographic, social, and economic determinants of food and nutrient consumption; interrelationships between food and nonfood consumption; estimates of food availability and food loss; consumer valuation of quality, safety, and nutrition characteristics; and the role of information in determining food choices and associated health outcomes.