Publications

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  • Developing an Integrated Information System for the Food Sector

    AER-575, August 03, 1987

    An information system for the food sector that integrates measures of prices, quantities, and values provides more information about many developments in the food sector than a system that separately measures prices, quantities, or values. This system allows greater understanding of the sources of food, outlets, food purchasers, and productivity in food marketing.

  • 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.

  • Do the Poor Pay More for Food? Item Selection and Price Differences Affect Low-Income Household Food Costs

    AER-759, December 01, 1997

    Low-income households may face higher food prices for three reasons: (1) on average, low-income households may spend less in supermarkets--which typically offer the lowest prices and greatest range of brands, package sizes, and quality choices; (2) low-income households are less likely to live in suburban locations where food prices are typically lower; and (3) supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods may charge higher prices than those in nearby higher income neighborhoods. Despite the prevailing higher prices, surveys of household food expenditures show that low-income households typically spend less than other households, on a per unit basis, for the foods they buy. Low-income households may realize lower costs by selecting more economical foods and lower quality items. In areas where food choices are limited due to the kinds and locations of foodstores, households may have sharply higher food costs.

  • Away-From-Home Foods Increasingly Important to Quality of American Diet

    AIB-749, January 01, 1999

    The increasing popularity of dining out over the past two decades has raised the proportion of nutrients obtained from away-from-home food sources. Between 1977 and 1995, home foods significantly improved their nutritional quality, more so than away-from-home foods, which typically contained more of the nutrients overconsumed (fat and saturated fat) and less of the nutrients underconsumed (calcium, fiber, and iron) by Americans. Since the trend of eating out frequently is expected to continue, strategies to improve the American diet must address consumers' food choices when eating out. This report analyzes food intake survey data collected by USDA over the past two decades to compare the nutritional quality of home and away-from-home foods and examine how the quality has changed over time.

  • Food Cost Indexes for Low-Income Households and the General Population

    TB-1872, February 01, 1999

    The results of this study indicate that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has not systematically overestimated or underestimated the food costs incurred by the general population. True-cost-of-food indexes calculated for the general population tend to be the same as or slightly lower then the CPI except for 1994 and 1995. The true-cost indexes also indicate that there are economies to household size, that black households incur lower costs than nonblack households, and that the households in the West tend to have the highest costs. True-cost indexes for low-income households tend to be about the same as the CPI for one-person households, and lower than the CPI for two- and four-person households in all years. This is a significant finding in that components of the CPI for food at home are indirectly used to adjust benefit levels for food stamp recipients.

  • 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.

  • Food Cost Review, 1950-97

    AER-780, June 01, 1999

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Retail Food Price Forecasting at ERS

    TB-1885, June 08, 2000

    Forecasting retail food prices has become increasingly important to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is due to the changing structure of food and agricultural economies and the important signals the forecasts provide to farmers, processors, wholesalers, consumers, and policymakers. The American food system is going through fundamental structural changes. It is unclear how these changes will affect the cyclical variation of food price markups and translate into changes in retail food prices. The only government entity that systematically examines food prices and provides food price forecasts (on an annual basis) is the Economic Research Service, an agency of USDA. This report explains the ERS procedures in forecasting food prices and assesses how changes in the current procedures would improve the quality of the forecasts.

  • Understanding the Dynamics of Produce Markets: Consumption and Consolidation Grow

    AIB-758, August 31, 2000

    Mergers, acquisitions, and internal growth among grocery retailers, largely since 1996, have increased the share of grocery store sales accounted for by the largest 4, 8, and 20 food retailers nationwide. Similar consolidation is occurring among food wholesalers. At the same time, new packaged and branded produce items are gaining acceptance with consumers and vying for shelf space in the supermarket produce department. Growers, shippers, and their trade associations fear the possibility of fewer buyers for their products, particularly if new marketing and trade practices such as volume incentive rebates and slotting fees become widespread. This report uses data from the Censuses of Wholesale Trade and Retail Trade and industry sources to examine changes in produce markets and market channels from 1987 to 1997 in the United States. It is the first in a series of reports that will examine competitive behavior in the produce industry.

  • USDA Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2010

    WAOB-011, February 22, 2001

    This report provides long-run (10-year) baseline projections for the agricultural sector through 2010. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Changing Structure of Global Food Consumption and Trade

    WRS-01-1, May 30, 2001

    Higher income, urbanization, other demographic shifts, improved transportation, and consumer perceptions regarding quality and safety are changing global food consumption patterns. Shifts in food consumption have led to increased trade and changes in the composition of world agricultural trade. Given different diets, food expenditure and food budget responses to income and price changes vary between developing and developed countries. In developing countries, higher income results in increased demand for meat products, often leading to increased import of live-stock feed. Diet diversification and increasing demand for better quality and labor-saving products have increased imports of high-value and processed food products in developed countries. Consumer groups in developed countries have also brought attention to organic production of food and the topic of animal welfare. One way in which the public and private sectors have responded to consumer demand for these quality attributes has been by developing and implementing mandatory and voluntary quality control, management, and assurance schemes.

  • Food Spending in American Households, 1997-98

    SB-972, June 06, 2001

    Average yearly expenditures on food in urban households remained constant between 1997 and 1998. In 1998, the typical household spent $1,773 per person versus $1,767 the previous year. Of this amount, $1,094 was spent on food consumed at home and $679 on food consumed away from home. In 1997, slightly more was spent on food at home, $1,126, and slightly less on food consumed away from home, $641. Detailed tabulations are presented for 133 food categories and 10 household socioeconomic characteristics for 1997 and 1998. The data are from the Consumer Expenditure Diary Surveys prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

  • 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.

  • Income and Food Expenditures Decomposed by Cohort, Age, and Time Effects

    TB-1896, August 24, 2001

    This report expands aggregate lifecycle expenditure analysis by separating generational or cohort effects from aging effects. This is important since different generations or age groups may exhibit expenditure patterns that are the result of higher incomes and/or different tastes and preferences. Ignoring these generational effects produces income and consumption age profiles that can be misleading. With accurate consumption and age profiles, policymakers can gain a better idea of food intake patterns by cohort, and there-by identify groups that may need additional diet and health information.

  • USDA Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2011

    WAOB-021, February 21, 2002

    This report provides long-run (10-year) baseline projections for the agricultural sector through 2011. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • 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.

  • Market Dynamics Keep Food Prices Steady

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    Many analysts feared consolidation in the retail food industry would create noncompetitive markets and higher food prices, with less pressure on retailers to improve quality and expand services available. However, the opposite trend is taking hold.

  • USDA Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2012

    WAOB-031, February 10, 2003

    This report provides long-run (10-year) baseline projections for the agricultural sector through 2012. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.