The ERS Food Expenditure Series contributes to the analysis of U.S. food production and consumption by constructing a comprehensive measure of the total value of all food expenditures by final purchasers. This series annually measures total U.S. food expenditures, including purchases by consumers, governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Because the term expenditure is often associated with household decisionmaking, it is important to recognize that ERS's series also includes nonhousehold purchases. For example, the series includes the dollar value of domestic food purchases by military personnel and their dependents at military commissary stores and exchanges, the value of commodities and food dollars donated by the Federal government to schools, and the value of food purchased by airlines for serving during flights.
ERS developed the series in 1987, and annual data are available from 1929 through 2014. The series also constitutes a measure of total sales through different food outlets, such as supermarkets, full-service and limited-service restaurants, mass merchandisers, and hotels. Production value or sales is equal to total expenditures.
ERS provides estimates of food eaten away from home and food eaten at home, as well as the share of the two food spending categories relative to two income series—disposable personal income and disposable personal money income. Food-away-from-home spending is mainly for food purchased at eating and drinking places, but it is also for food purchased at such outlets as hotels and motels, recreational places, vending machines, and schools and colleges. ERS estimates of food at home and food away from home may not equal estimates with similar labels by other series.