Publications

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  • Changing Consumer Food Prices: A User's Guide to ERS Analyses

    TB-1862, June 01, 1997

    ERS uses different economic models to estimate the impact of higher input prices on consumer food prices. This technical bulletin compares three ERS models. In the first two models (referred to as shortrun models), neither consumers nor food producers respond to market prices. In the third model (a longrun model), both consumers and food producers respond to changing prices. The authors simulated the impact of a higher energy price on consumer food prices. The empirical findings are consistent with expected market responses. In the short run, the effect of an increase in the price of energy is fully (or nearly fully) passed on to consumers, because neither food producers nor consumers can immediately respond to changing prices. In the long run, however, the price response of food producers and consumers serves to mitigate the increase in consumer food prices.

  • Consumers Paid Less for Grocery Store Foods in 2016 Than in 2015

    Amber Waves, March 06, 2017

    In 2016, grocery store (food-at-home) prices decreased by 1.3 percent, the first time in nearly 50 years that at-home food prices were lower than those in the year before.

  • Food Price Transmissions From Farm to Retail

    Amber Waves, May 05, 2014

    ERS forecasts price changes for three stages of the food chain: farm commodities, wholesale commodities, and retail foods. Generally, prices for the three types of goods move in the same direction, with smaller price changes for each successive stage.

  • Food Prices—Taking the Long-Term View

    Amber Waves, April 07, 2014

    U.S. food price inflation has been falling, on average, over the past several decades. Since 2010, food prices have risen by an average of 2.1 percent a year—in sharp contrast with the 1970s when the all food Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by an average of 8.1 percent per year.

  • Forecasting Consumer Price Indexes for Food: A Demand Model Approach

    TB-1883, March 01, 2000

    Forecasting food prices is an important component of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's short-term outlook and long-term baseline forecasting activities. A food price-forecasting model is developed by applying an inverse demand system, in which prices are functions of quantities of food use and income. Therefore, these quantity and income variables can be used as explanatory variables for food price changes. The empirical model provides an effective instrument for forecasting consumer price indexes of 16 food categories. ERS AutoFAX summary document # 01733. Contact: khuang@ers.usda.gov.

  • Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: December 2012

    FTS-354, December 18, 2012

    Total citrus production forecast to remain stable in 2012/13.

  • Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: June 2015

    FTS-359, June 30, 2015

    Peach, cherry, and prune production forecast down from last season. The decline in peach output has only put little upward pressure on prices. Shipments of melons are up through June.

  • Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: September 2012

    FTS-353, September 27, 2012

    Adverse weather is behind the forecast smaller U.S. apple, pear, and grape crops in 2012.

  • Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: September 2015

    FTS-360, September 30, 2015

    The Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook report analyzes supply-and-demand conditions in the U.S. fruit and tree nuts markets and provides projections on market conditions for 2015 apple, pear, cranberry, grape and peach crops as well as 2014/15 citrus crops, both fresh and processed markets. It includes an additional section on U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act.

  • Household Food Spending by Selected Demographics in the 1990s

    AIB-773, August 15, 2001

    Average per-person total food expenditures, adjusted for inflation, declined about 7 percent between 1990 and 1998, from $2,189 to $2,037. This decline resulted primarily from the average at-home food expenditures per person declining by about 6 percent and the away-from-home food expenditures declining by about 8 percent. Price-adjusted food spending reflects changes in the real price of food as well as any quantity adjustments made by consumers. However, the national average masks the fact that some population subgroups had significantly higher or lower food expenditures than average. For example, while total food spending declined for all demographic groups except female-headed and Black households, these two demographic groups still had the lowest per capita spending. In contrast to this, per-person total food expenditures were greatest for households in the highest income quintile, for one-person households, and for house-holds with heads between 55 and 64 years of age.

  • How Low-Income Households Allocate Their Food Budget Relative to the Cost of the Thrifty Food Plan

    ERR-20, August 25, 2006

    Low-income households that participate in the Food Stamp Program can achieve a healthy diet if they use the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) as a guide for their food shopping. Most studies measuring the degree to which low-income households follow the TFP have compared total household food expenditures-for food at home as well as food away from home-to the TFP. The present study looked at total expenditures, but the emphasis is on how low-income households allocate their budget relative to the TFP for food at home. To determine whether some types of households are more likely than others to budget their food purchases in accordance with TFP benchmarks, and to identify households that might benefit most from nutrition education programs, the study compared actual and TFP expenditures for four household categories.

  • How USDA Forecasts Retail Food Price Inflation

    TB-1940, May 27, 2015

    In recent years, ERS has used a revised methodology for forecasting food price inflation, which captures price impacts at various stages of the food supply system and results in improved precision of the forecasts.

  • Methodology for the Quarterly Food-Away-from-Home Prices Data

    TB-1938, May 21, 2014

    ERS's new Quarterly Food-Away-from-Home Prices (QFAFHP) data show substantial variation in prices across U.S. regions and food establishment types, with implications for analyses of food purchasing behavior and dietary outcomes.

  • Prevalence of U.S. Food Insecurity Is Related to Changes in Unemployment, Inflation, and the Price of Food

    ERR-167, June 20, 2014

    The association of food insecurity with household characteristics and national economic conditions over 2001-12 provides insight into why food insecurity remained at about the same level in 2012 as shortly after the recession.

  • Price Inflation for Food Outpacing Many Other Spending Categories

    Amber Waves, August 05, 2013

    Food prices have been rising in recent years, and food price inflation has easily outpaced price inflation for most other major consumer spending categories. Between 2006 and 2012, only prices for transportation, which includes a number of energy price measures, and medical care have risen faster than food prices.

  • Price Trends Are Similar for Fruits, Vegetables, and Snack Foods

    ERR-55, March 12, 2008

    Evidence suggest that a wide class of unprepared fresh fruits and vegetables-those that have not been combined with labor-saving attributes-display declining prices along with prices of commonly consumed dessert and snack foods

  • Processing and Marketing Blunt the Impact of Volatile Farm Prices on Retail Dairy Prices

    Amber Waves, August 01, 2016

    Despite volatile farm-level milk prices over the last decade, fluctuations in retail prices for whole milk and Cheddar cheese have been comparatively moderate, with farm prices and retail prices tracking more closely for whole milk than for Cheddar cheese.

  • 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.

  • Since 2009, Restaurant Prices Have Generally Risen Faster Than Grocery Store Prices

    Amber Waves, August 07, 2017

    Between 2009 and 2016, restaurant prices grew at an average annual rate of 2.5 percent, while grocery store food prices rose by an average of 1.4 percent per year.

  • The Demand for Disaggregated Food-Away-From-Home and Food-at-Home Products in the United States

    ERR-139, August 23, 2012

    Food away from home (FAFH) comprises nearly half of all U.S. consumer food expenditures. Hence, policies designed to influence nutritional outcomes would be incomplete if they did not address the role of FAFH. However, because of data limitations, most studies of the response of food demand to policy changes have ignored the role of FAFH, and those studies that have included FAFH have treated it as a single good. We, therefore, estimate demand for 43 disaggregated FAFH and food-at-home (FAH) products, using a 2-stage budgeting framework. We find that the demands for disaggregated FAFH products differ in price responsiveness and tend to be more sensitive to changes in food spending patterns than FAH products. Many foods are found to have statistically significant substitution and complementary relationships within and among food groups.