Publications

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  • 2014 Farm Act Maintains SNAP Eligibility Guidelines and Funds New Initiatives

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    The Agricultural Act of 2014 maintains SNAP’s basic eligibility guidelines and includes provisions designed to encourage SNAP recipients to choose healthy foods and to build the skills needed to increase their employment options. Other provisions aim to improve the food environment at schools and in low-income communities.

  • A Closer Look at Declining Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Using Linked Data Sources

    Amber Waves, July 05, 2016

    Researchers linked ERS's food availability data with food intake survey data to break down national food and vegetable consumption trends by age, gender, education level, income, and race/ethnic background. They found that declines in fruit and vegetable consumption—driven by falling consumption of orange juice, potatoes and head lettuce—have been steeper for some demographic groups than for others.

  • A Revised and Expanded Food Dollar Series: A Better Understanding of Our Food Costs

    ERR-114, February 24, 2011

    A new and expanded ERS food dollar series provides a more detailed answer to the question of where our food dollars go (e.g., the farm share and the share among the various supply chain industry groups)

  • Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food-Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences: Report to Congress

    AP-036, June 25, 2009

    This report fills a request for a study of food deserts-areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food-from the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. The report summarizes findings of a national-level assessment of the extent and characteristics of food deserts, analysis of the consequences of food deserts, lessons learned from related Federal programs, and a discussion of policy options for alleviating the effects of food deserts. Overall, findings show that a small percentage of consumers are constrained in their ability to access affordable nutritious food because they live far from a supermarket or large grocery store and do not have easy access to transportation.

  • Accounting for Direct and Embedded Imports in the U.S. Food and Beverage Dollar

    Amber Waves, July 06, 2015

    Of the $1.48 trillion that U.S. consumers spent on food and beverages in 2013, 13 percent was spent on direct imports. Domestically-produced food and beverages included another $76.6 billion of embedded imports—imported food ingredients and non-food inputs used throughout the U.S. food system.

  • Americans’ Food Choices at Home and Away: How Do They Compare With Recommendations?

    Amber Waves, February 21, 2013

    In grocery stores, Americans underspend on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and overspend on refined grains, fats, and sugars/sweets, compared with dietary guidance Away-from-home foods are even less consistent with dietary guidance.

  • An Assessment of Product Turnover in the U.S. Food Industry and Effects on Nutrient Content

    EIB-183, November 20, 2017

    ERS researchers assess U.S. food products’ marketplace entry and exit rates in 2008-12 and break down these changes across food categories. They also examine some of the implications product turnover may hold for nutritional content.

  • An Economic Model of WIC, the Infant Formula Rebate Program, and the Retail Price of Infant Formula

    FANRR-39-2, January 03, 2005

    This report develops an economic model that provides the theoretical framework for the econometric analyses presented in the report's companion volume, WIC and the Retail Price of Infant Formula (FANRR-39-1). The model examines supermarket retail prices for infant formula in a local market area, and identifies the theoretical effects of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and its infant formula rebate program. Special attention is given to the rebate program's sole-source procurement system by which a single manufacturer becomes a State's "contract brand" -the State's one supplier of formula to WIC infants-in exchange for paying rebates to WIC. When a manufacturer's brand is designated a State's contract brand, the model predicts that supermarkets increase that brand's retail price. The model also predicts that an increase in the ratio of WIC to non-WIC formula-fed infants in a local market results in an increase in the price of the contract brand and, through demand substitution, a relatively small price increase for noncontract brands.

  • Are Healthy Foods Really More Expensive? It Depends on How You Measure the Price

    EIB-96, May 16, 2012

    How food items are priced (by calorie, by weight, or by average amount consumed) has a large effect on which foods are determined to be more expensive.

  • Are Lower Income Households Willing and Able To Budget for Fruits and Vegetables?

    ERR-54, January 07, 2008

    Households have a number of needs and wants that all compete for scarce resources. Given this situation, are low-income households, in particular, generally willing and able to budget for healthful foods like fruits and vegetables, or are other goods and services, including other foods, more of a priority? For six out of seven selected types of food, we find that households with an income below 130 percent of the poverty line spend less money than higher income households. However, we also find that these households, when given a small increase in income, will allocate more money to only two out of the seven products, beef and frozen prepared foods. These foods may be priorities for reasons of taste and convenience. For additional money to be allocated to fruits and vegetables, a household's income needs to be slightly greater than 130 percent of the poverty line.

  • Assessing the Healthfulness of Consumers' Grocery Purchases

    EIB-102, November 08, 2012

    Americans have a long way to go in conforming to dietary guidelines when purchasing food for home; they buy too few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and choose foods with too many fats and added sugars.

  • 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.

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2004

    Indicators: Behind the Data - February 2004

  • Birth Year Affects Demand for At-Home Fresh Vegetables

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    Spending less money for fresh vegetables at grocery stores suggests that younger generations are buying smaller quantities, or purchasing less expensive vegetables, or both. If younger Americans are consuming less at-home fresh vegetables, the quality of their diets may suffer unless they consume more vegetables in prepared foods or when eating out.

  • Can Food Stamps Do More To Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective

    EIB-29, September 27, 2007

    Eight economic information bulletins compile evidence to address the question of whether the Food Stamp Program could do more to encourage healthful food choices.

  • Can Food Stamps Do More to Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective-Making Healthy Food Choices Easier: Ideas From Behavioral Economics

    EIB-29-7, September 27, 2007

    With obesity the most prevalent nutrition problem facing Americans at all economic levels, promoting diets that provide adequate nutrition without too many calories has become an important objective for the Food Stamp Program. Findings from behavioral economics suggest innovative, low-cost ways to improve the diet quality of food stamp participants without restricting their freedom of choice. Unlike more traditional economic interventions, such as changing prices or banning specific foods, the strategies explored in this brief can be targeted to those participants who want help making more healthful food choices.

  • Can Food Stamps Do More to Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective-Stretching the Food Stamp Dollar: Regional Price Differences Affect Affordability of Food

    EIB-29-2, September 27, 2007

    Significant regional differences in food prices affect how far food stamp benefits can go toward enhancing the diet of low-income consumers in a given region. In regions where average food prices exceed the national average, food stamp benefits may not provide the same level of coverage as the same benefit would in below-average-price regions. This report measures average prices paid across U.S. regions. Results show that a household made up of a family of four in the East or West could spend $32-$48 more per month for a similar amount of food than the average U.S. household, whereas a household in the South and Midwest could spend $12-28 less per month than the average U.S. household.

  • Can Food Stamps Do More to Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective—Nutrition Information: Can It Improve the Diets of Low-Income Households?

    EIB-29-6, September 03, 2007

    The Food Stamp Nutrition Education (FSNE) component of the Food Stamp Program is intended to improve the food choices, diet quality, and health of program participants. This brief discusses the FSNE program, how it operates, and how it has grown over time. The brief also considers the challenges of nutrition education in general and discusses the research and evaluation needs suggested by the findings.

  • 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.

  • 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.