Publications

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  • U.S. Food Commodity Availability by Food Source, 1994-2008

    ERR-221, December 28, 2016

    ERS analyzed 63 Individual food commodities by source – food obtained for at-home preparation (FAH) and food prepared away from home (FAFH). Data on food source could inform marketing and help steer nutrition education.

  • Updated Supermarket Shrink Estimates for Fresh Foods and Their Implications for ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data

    EIB-155, June 21, 2016

    ERS examines how using updated supermarket shrink-loss data in the agency's Loss-Adjusted Food Availability series would affect estimates of U.S. fresh food items available for consumption.

  • U.S. Food Commodity Consumption Broken Down by Demographics, 1994-2008

    ERR-206, March 30, 2016

    ERS drew on national dietary intake surveys to break down the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data and show food consumption by demographic characteristics for 63 commodities (who eats what food commodities and how much).

  • Food Loss—Questions About the Amount and Causes Still Remain

    Amber Waves, June 02, 2014

    ERS estimates that 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds, of food available for consumption in U.S. grocery stores, restaurants, and homes went uneaten in 2010. Greater awareness of the amount of food loss—and where and why it occurs—may help spur public and private responses.

  • The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States

    EIB-121, February 20, 2014

    In the United States, 31 percent-or 133 billion pounds-of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels in 2010 went uneaten. The estimated value of this food loss was $161.6 billion using retail prices. For the first time, ERS estimated the calories associated with food loss: 141 trillion in 2010, or 1,249 calories per capita per day. Errata: On June 27, 2014, Tables 2, 3, and 5 were updated to correct some incorrect values. The errors did not affect summary totals in the tables or report findings.

  • ERS’s Food Loss Data Help Inform the Food Waste Discussion

    Amber Waves, June 03, 2013

    ERS's Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data show that at the retail and consumer levels, an estimated 31 percent of the 430 billion pounds of food available for human consumption in the U.S. in 2010 was not eaten due to cooking and moisture shrinkage; loss from mold, pests, or inadequate climate control; plate waste; and other causes.

  • New Loss Estimates Suggest Higher Vegetable and Protein Consumption

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2011

    ERS contracted with an independent, nonprofit research organization to develop new consumer-level loss estimates to update those ERS has used since the mid-1990s. If the new food loss estimates are adopted, changes to ERS’s current Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data would vary for individual foods.

  • How Much Do Fruits and Vegetables Cost?

    EIB-71, February 01, 2011

    ERS used retail scanner data to estimate the average prices of 153 fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. The report includes estimates of the cost of meeting the recommendations of USDA's recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines

  • Consumer-Level Food Loss Estimates and Their Use in the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data

    TB-1927, January 03, 2011

    The Food Availability (per capita) Data System developed by USDA's Economic Research Service tracks annual food and nutrient availability for many commodities. The Food Availability data series in this system overstates actual consumption, so ERS has included an additional series, the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data, to adjust the Food Availability data for nonedible food parts and food losses, including losses from farm to retail, at retail, and at the consumer level. In this report, we propose new consumer-level loss estimates for "cooking loss and uneaten food" of the edible share to replace those currently used in the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data and propose their adoption for the entire data span (1970 to the most recent year in the series). The proposed loss percentages are calculated by subtracting food consumption estimates from food purchase or availability estimates for each food. These calculations are adjusted with information from an expert panel experienced in analyzing food consumption data. In general, the proposed food loss estimates for individual foods indicate substantial differences from the currently used estimates. Although some estimates indicate smaller loss percentages than the currently used estimates, many are larger. Overall, if the proposed loss estimates are used in the ERS loss-adjusted series, the average American would consume 17.3 pounds less each year, or 41.9 fewer calories per day, than suggested by the currently used loss estimates.

  • Canned Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in the United States: An Updated Report to Congress

    AP-050, November 10, 2010

    The Senate Report 111-039 accompanying S. 1406, the 2010 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) prepare and publish a report regarding consumer perceptions of canned fruits and vegetables. In the absence of consumer surveys, the report relies on consumption and spending estimates to reveal attitudes of the U.S. population toward canned produce. This report updates Canned Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in the United States: Report to Congress (October 2008), using more recent data through 2008, where available.

  • Guess Who’s Turning 100? Tracking a Century of American Eating

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    ERS maintains the only time-series data on U.S. food availability in the country. The data help in monitoring the potential for the food supply to meet the nutritional needs of Americans and in examining consumption trends. A look at 100 years of American eating reveals the technological, political, social, and economic forces affecting food availability.

  • In the Long Run: Milk and Coffee Displaced by Other Beverage Options

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    Per capita availability (a proxy for consumption) of beverage milk and coffee in the United States peaked in the mid-1940s and then gradually declined as consumers took advantage of an ever-increasing selection of beverages.

  • Trade Data Show Value, Variety, and Sources of U.S. Food Imports

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2009

    There have been notable increases in the variety of food products imported by the U.S. and the number of countries supplying the products. Most of the growth in the past decade has been in imports of consumer-ready products, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, and imports from developing countries account for most of this growth.

  • Imports From China and Food Safety Issues

    EIB-52, July 07, 2009

    Food imports from China more than tripled in value from 2001 to 2008. ERS indicates the types of foods imported, analyzes FDA refusals of shipments, and describes China's food safety regulation.

  • Adulteration Accounts for Majority of FDA Food-Related Import Refusals

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2009

    ERS researchers analyzed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data on food import shipments that were refused entry into the U.S. during 1998-2004. Of the 70,369 import violations in 1998-2004, 65 percent were for adulteration, 33 percent for misbranding, and 2 percent were other violations, such as items forbidden or restricted in sale. The three imported food categories with the most violations were vegetable products, seafood products, and fruit products.

  • Supermarket Loss Estimates for Fresh Fruit, Vegetables, Meat, Poultry, and Seafood and Their Use in the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data

    EIB-44, March 20, 2009

    Using new national estimates of supermarket food loss, ERS updates each fresh fruit, vegetable, meat, and poultry commodity in its Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series.

  • Canned Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in the United States: A Report to the United States Congress

    AP-032, September 12, 2008

    In response to Senate Report 110-134, accompanying S. 1859, the 2008 the Agriculture Appropriations Bill, ERS researchers published a report about consumer perceptions and consumption of canned fruits and vegetables using USDA's food consumption survey data, Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey data, and the ERS Food Availability Data System. If current trends prevail, total fruit and vegetable availability will continue to increase but canned fruits and vegetables will account for a declining share of that total. However, there are several divergent and offsetting forces that make it difficult to predict the future demand for canned produce.

  • Food Safety and Imports: An Analysis of FDA Import Refusal Reports

    EIB-39, September 09, 2008

    This report examines U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data on refusals of food offered for importation into the United States from 1998 to 2004. Although the data do not necessarily reflect the distribution of risk in foods, the study found that import refusals highlight food safety problems that appear to recur in trade and where the FDA has focused its import alerts, examinations (e.g., sampling), and other monitoring efforts. The data show some food industries and types of violations may be consistent sources of problems both over time and in comparison with previous studies of more limited data. The three food industry groups with the most violations were vegetables (20.6 percent of total violations), fishery and seafood (20.1 percent), and fruits (11.7 percent). Violations observed over the entire time period include sanitary issues in seafood and fruit products, pesticides in vegetables, and unregistered processes for canned food products in all three industries.

  • Consumer Preferences Change Wheat Flour Use

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2008

    Between 1997 and 2002, per capita flour use declined with the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets. The industry responded with the introduction of a wide array of new products, to satisfy these new dietary preferences, particularly the increased demand for higher fiber and protein. As a result, 2007 saw a rise in per capita flour use.

  • The National School Lunch Program Background, Trends, and Issues

    ERR-61, July 18, 2008

    The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the Nation's second largest food and nutrition assistance program. In 2006, it operated in over 101,000 public and nonprofit private schools and provided over 28 million low-cost or free lunches to children on a typical school day at a Federal cost of $8 billion for the year. This report provides background information on the NSLP, including historical trends and participant characteristics. It also addresses steps being taken to meet challenges facing administrators of the program, including tradeoffs between nutritional quality of foods served, costs, and participation, as well as between program access and program integrity.