U.S. households in the lowest income quintile spent an average of 36 percent of income on food in 2019

U.S. households in the lowest income quintile spent an average of 36 percent of income on food in 2019

Households spend more money on food as their incomes rise, but the amount spent represents a smaller share of their overall budgets. In 2019, households in the lowest income quintile, with an average 2019 after-tax income of $12,236, spent an average of $4,400 on food (about $85 a week). Households in the highest income quintile, with an average 2019 after-tax income of $174,777, spent an average of $13,987 on food (about $269 a week). The three-fold increase in spending between the lowest and highest income quintiles is not the result of a three-fold increase in consumption, however. Rather, as people gain more disposable income, they often shift to more expensive food options, including dining out. Even with this shift, as income increases, the percent of income spent on food goes down. In 2019, food spending represented 36.0 percent of the lowest quintile’s income, 14.1 percent of income for the middle quintile, and 8.0 percent of income for the highest quintile. The statistics in this chart predate the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts. This chart appears in the Food Prices and Spending section of the Economic Research Service’s Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials data product.


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Last updated: Tuesday, November 10, 2020

For more information, contact: Carolyn Chelius