Publications

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  • Socio-Economic Determinants of Food Insecurity in the United States: Evidence from the SIPP and CSFII Datasets

    TB-1869, October 20, 1998

    This bulletin reports empirical findings on the determinants of food insecurity in the United States, using data from the 1989-91 Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals and the 1992 Survey of Income and Program Participation. Descriptive statistics on food insufficiency status (a proxy measure for the most food-insecure households) are presented from both surveys. Multivariate logit models are used to study the effects of socio-economic characteristics on food insufficiency. Households with higher incomes, homeowners, households headed by a high school graduate, and elderly households were less likely to be food insufficient. Holding other factors constant, those in poverty were over 3.5 times more likely to be food insufficient. However, there was not a one-to-one correspondence between poverty and food insufficiency, since over 40 percent of food-insufficient households were not poor and about 10 percent of poor households were food insufficient. Food stamp benefit levels were inversely associated with food insufficiency.

  • A Dietary Assessment of the U.S. Food Supply: Comparing Per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations

    AER-772, December 01, 1998

    Most American diets do not meet Federal Food Guide Pyramid dietary recommendations. On average, people consume too many servings of added fats and sugars and too few servings of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, lean meats, and foods made from whole grains--compared with a reference set of Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendations appropriate to the age and gender composition of the U.S. population. In addition, while the healthfulness of diets has improved over time, the pace of improvement has been uneven. For example, while Americans consumed record amounts of fruits and vegetables in 1996, consumption of caloric sweeteners also reached a 27-year high. This report is the first dietary assessment to use ERS's time-series food supply data to compare average diets with Federal dietary recommendations depicted in the Food Guide Pyramid. Food Guide Pyramid servings were estimated for more than 250 agricultural commodities for 1970-96. New techniques were developed to adjust the data for food spoilage and other losses accumulated throughout the marketing system and the home.

  • Food Consumption, Prices, and Expenditures, 1970-97

    SB-965, April 02, 1999

    This annual bestseller presents historical data on food consumption, prices, and expenditures by commodity and commodity group, supply and use, prices, total expenditures, and U.S. income and population. Includes 29 charts dealing with food consumption trends, from changes in per capita consumption, to share of income spent for food.

  • Moving Toward the Food Guide Pyramid: Implications for U.S. Agriculture

    AER-779, July 02, 1999

    Recent studies show that average diets differ considerably from Food Guide Pyramid recommendations. The gap between current consumption and recommendations is particularly large for caloric sweeteners, fats and oils, fruits, and certain vegetables, notably dark-green leafy and deep-yellow vegetables, and dry beans, peas, and lentils. The change in food consumption needed to meet Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendations will result in adjustments in U.S. agricultural production, trade, nonfood uses, and prices. The net adjustment in crop acreage is projected to be relatively small, about 2 percent of total cropland in 1991-95. However, this small net adjustment masks larger anticipated changes for some sectors, particularly sweeteners, fats and oils, and citrus fruits.

  • Estimation of Food Demand and Nutrient Elasticities from Household Survey Data

    TB-1887, September 05, 2000

    A methodology for estimating a demand system from household survey data is developed and applied to the 1987-88 Nationwide Food Consumption Survey data. The empirical results are sets of estimated demand elasticities for households segmented with different income levels. In addition, we apply these demand elasticities to estimate the implied nutrient elasticities for low-income households. The estimation results are useful in evaluating some food policy and program effects related to households of a specific income level.

  • Changes in Agricultural Markets in Transition Economies

    AER-806, March 01, 2002

    The report examines how economic reform in the transition countries of the former Soviet bloc has transformed the volume and mix of these countries' agricultural production, consumption, and trade. The report concludes that output decline has been an inevitable part of market reform and that the main goal of agricultural policy in the transition countries should not be to return output to pre-reform levels but rather to increase the productivity of input use.

  • Retail-Farm Price Margins and Consumer Product Diversity

    TB-1899, April 01, 2002

    This bulletin provides an alternative approach for computing retail-farm price margins. Current published estimates of retail-farm price margins are calculated assuming that food markets are comprised of identical firms producing, in fixed-factor proportions, a homogeneous set of final food products. The approach presented here relaxes these assumptions by relying on an expenditure-based measure, justified by the Generalized Composite Commodity Theorem, that reflects consumer demand for the many different elementary food products associated with a modern food market. This measure allows a direct link between consumer demand for diverse elementary products and food quality and marketing services where increases in retail-farm price margins, for example, can be traced to increases in consumer purchases of high-value products. Retail-farm price margins based on the alternative approach are estimated here for seven major U.S. food markets for each year from 1980-97. Although the alternative retail-farm price margins and the currently published estimates show similar trends, they also show significant differences, particularly in more recent years, that can be traced to shifts in increased consumer demand for marketing services.

  • The Import Share of U.S.-Consumed Food Continues To Rise

    FAU-66-01, July 03, 2002

    The import share of U.S. food consumption held steady at 8.8 percent from 1998 to 2000. Import share in 2000 is an average of the 12.3 percent share of U.S. consumption of food crops and crop products and the 4.2 percent share of animal products, including fish and shellfish. These import shares of the two major food groups are each weighed by their corresponding shares of total U.S. per capita food consumption. In 1992, overall imports were only 7 percent of U.S.-consumed food, but increased as both the U.S. economy and the dollar strengthened.

  • Issues in Food Assistance-Private Provision of Food Aid: The Emergency Food Assistance System

    FANRR-26-5, August 01, 2002

    Although Federal programs provide most food assistance in the U.S., many households rely on private, nonprofit, charitable organizations that provide emergency food in their communities. This issue brief reports findings from the first comprehensive government study of these organizations.

  • Food Expenditures by U.S. Households: Looking Ahead to 2020

    AER-821, February 01, 2003

    Over the next two decades, U.S. food expenditures will continue to rise. This study examines how projected food expenditures will be affected by demographic changes, population growth, increasing per capita income levels, and other factors.

  • Hold the Fries: Older Americans and Food Choices

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    Though older Americans spend less on food away from home, they consume more fish and potatoes other than french fries, both away from home and at home. Older people also eat more vegetables at home. Overall, the age factor alone reduces total per capita consumption of fried potatoes, beef, poultry, cheese, sugar, grains, and tomatoes.

  • Behind the Data: Estimating Per Capita Domestic Use of Head Lettuce

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    Methodology behind estimates of U.S. lettuce consumption

  • Food and Agricultural Commodity Consumption in the United States: Looking Ahead to 2020

    AER-820, February 03, 2003

    This report analyzes how U.S. consumption of food commodities is projected to rise through 2020. The study uses date from USDA's food intake survey to project the consumption, through 2020, of 25 food groups and 22 commodity groups.

  • Factors Affecting U.S. Mushroom Consumption

    VGS-29501, March 31, 2003

    U.S. mushroom consumption has been increasing over the past several decades. Basic knowledge of the distribution of mushroom consumption across different market channels, geographic regions, and population groups has been very limited in the past. Using data from USDA's 1994-96 and 1998 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, this article examines the consumption distribution of fresh-market and processed mushrooms in the United States. The analysis indicates that per capita mushroom consumption is greatest in the West and Midwest. A little more than half of fresh-market mushrooms are purchased at retail and consumed at home, while three-fourths of processed mushrooms are consumed at home. Per capita mushroom use is highest among men and women aged 20-39, and weakest for children under the age of 12.

  • Consumer-Driven Agriculture: Changing U.S. Demographics Influence Eating Habits

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2003

    Beyond our bustling cities, America's farmlands are ostensibly a Norman Rockwell picture of calm and stability. Red barns, majestic silos, rustic farmhouses, and pastures of grazing livestock are reassuring images that recall a seemingly simpler age. Yet just beyond the old-fashioned barn door are the products of a telecommunications age that have transformed farming into a modern and global business.

  • Dietary Differences Masked by Averages

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2003

    As the rates of obesity and related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, continue to rise, the quality of our diets is being increasingly scrutinized by health professionals in both the public and private sectors. The diets of different sociodemographic groups are of particular interest to public health officials because of the disparities among these groups in terms of incidence of certain diseases, like obesity. With better knowledge of the dietary differences associated with gender, education, income, race, and ethnicity, public health officials can identify groups that are particularly vulnerable to poor health and devise appropriate strategies.

  • Import Share of U.S. Food Consumption Stable at 11 Percent

    FAU-79-01, July 25, 2003

    As U.S. per capita consumption of food grew from an average 1,800 pounds per year in the early 1980s to more than 2,000 pounds in recent years, the import share of U.S. consumed food climbed from 8 percent to more than 11 percent. The import shares of U.S. consumption of animal products and food crops both increased in the past two decades, with the aggregate share of fruits and vegetables at least twice as large as that of animal products.

  • Vegetable Consumption Away from Home on the Rise

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    As the share of total food consumption away from the home has risen over the last two decades, so, too, has the share of vegetables consumed outside the home. Per capita consumption of all vegetables averaged 445 pounds in 2000-02—25 percent greater than 1980-82—with about half the growth ascribed to the away-from-home market.

  • International Evidence on Food Consumption Patterns

    TB-1904, October 06, 2003

    This report analyzes expenditures on major consumption categories including food and different food subcategories across 114 countries. It also presents estimated expenditure responsiveness or elasticities with price and income changes for each of the major consumption categories and food subcategories for individual countries in the study. The data in this report are available electronically. See the International Food Consumption Patterns data product.

  • Consumers and the Future of Biotech Foods in the United States

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2003

    When consumers are made aware that food products are biotech, how will they react? As the largest market for U.S. producers, American consumers will render the ultimate verdict on the future of agricultural biotechnology in the United States.