In The Long Run

Share of income spent on food continues to decline

With incomes climbing at a faster rate than expenditures for food, Americans spent 9.9 percent of their disposable personal income on food in 2005, down from 23.4 percent in 1929. This decline is even more striking considering the labor and technology that go into the multitude of processed foods on today’s supermarket shelves. In addition, almost half of our food dollars are now spent at restaurants and other eating places, while in 1929, food away from home accounted for 17 percent of food expenditures. Despite this jump in away-from-home eating, the share of income spent on food away from home has remained at around 4 percent.