Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System
The ERS Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System (FADS) includes three distinct but related data series on food and nutrient availability for consumption. The data serve as proxies for actual consumption at the national level. Food availability data provide estimates through 2016 for most commodities and through 2017 for citrus fruits, grains, and vegetables; this series serves as the foundation for the other two series. Loss-adjusted food availability data (LAFA) are also provided through 2016 for most products, with citrus fruits updated through 2017. This second series is considered preliminary because the underlying food loss assumptions and estimates require further improvement. Nutrient availability data are no longer updated by USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP); ERS provides this data series through 2010 in archived tables. Documentation is available for each of the three data series.
The food availability data include estimates for over 200 commodities, including individual fruits, vegetables, grains, added sugars & sweeteners, dairy products, nuts, meat, poultry, and seafood. However, in 2011, the Census Bureau discontinued the Current Industrial Reports (CIR), which provided data for added fats & oils (except butter), durum flour, and candy & other confectionery products. As a result, the most recent year that data are available for these commodities is 2010.
Because of this data limitation, certain summary estimates—such as per capita daily amounts of calories, food pattern equivalents (or servings), and food loss at the retail and consumer levels in the United States—cannot be calculated beyond 2010. However, the lack of data on durum flour is not critical to the calculation of summary estimates because data are available for wheat flour, which includes durum flour. The lack of data on candy & other confectionary products also is not critical to the calculation of summary estimates because data are available for individual sugar and sweetener commodities (for example, cane and beet sugar and high-fructose corn syrup) within the candy & other confectionary products group.
ERS updates the food availability estimates when data for various commodities which form the basis of the estimates become available. For example, fruit is scheduled to be updated in the Fall, vegetables in the Spring, dairy in late Summer, and the remaining commodities in the Summer.
The loss-adjusted food availability data include estimates for over 200 commodities. In 2017, ERS contracted with RTI International to form a panel of academic experts to review seven critical technical issues and seven data gaps in the LAFA series. In the forthcoming report, Expert Panel on Technical Questions and Data Gaps for the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) Data Series, the panel recommended approaches and methods to improve the series. Two of the recommended changes are included in the current update: (1) new loss factors for individual fresh fruits and vegetables, and (2) a new "edible weight" estimate at the consumer level for all commodities. See the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Documentation for more information.