Publications

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  • The Food Marketing System in 1996

    AIB-743, August 03, 1998

    New food product introductions fell sharply in 1996. The number of new plants, consumer advertising expenditures, and common stock prices reached new highs in 1996, as did the number of mergers in the foodservice industry. Profitability from food manufacturing and retailing was higher due to strong sales, wage and producer price stability, and streamlining of operations.

  • 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.

  • Consumer Acceptance of Irradiated Meat and Poultry Products

    AIB-757, August 31, 2000

    The Federal Government began allowing food manufacturers to irradiate raw meat and meat products to control pathogenic microorganisms in February 2000. Consumer acceptance of irradiated foods could affect public health because many foodborne illnesses occur when consumers handle or eat meat or poultry contaminated by microbial pathogens. However, food manufacturers have been slow to adopt irradiation, partly because of the perception that relatively few consumers are willing to buy irradiated foods. A recent survey by the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) confirmed this perception: only half of the adult residents of the FoodNet sites were willing to buy irradiated ground beef or chicken, and only a fourth were willing to pay a premium for these products, which cost more to produce than comparable nonirradiated products. These findings suggest that the impact of food irradiation on public health will be limited unless consumer preferences change, perhaps in response to educational messages about the safety and benefits of food irradiation.

  • U.S. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Marketing: Emerging Trade Practices, Trends, and Issues

    AER-795, January 25, 2001

    In the past year, trade practices between fresh produce shippers and food retailers gained national attention. Shippers are concerned that recent retail consolidation has led to market power and the growing incidence of fees and services. Retailers argue that these new trade practices reflect their costs of doing business and the demands of consumers. Trade practices include fees such as volume discounts and slotting fees, as well as services like automatic inventory replenishment, special packaging, and requirements for third-party food safety certification. Trade practices also refer to the overall structure of a transaction-for example, long-term relationships or contracts versus daily sales with no continuing commitment. This study compares trade practices in 1999 with those prevalent in 1994, placing them in the broader context of the evolving shipper/retailer relationship. Most shippers and retailers reported that the incidence and magnitude of fees and services associated with transactions has increased over the last 5 years. Fees paid to retailers are usually around 1-2 percent of sales for most of the commodities we examined, but 1-8 percent for bagged salads.

  • Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit

    EFAN-02013, July 01, 2002

    This report provides a toolkit of standardized measurement tools for assessing various aspects of community food security. It includes a general guide to community assessment and focused materials for examining six basic assessment components related to community food security. These include guides for profiling general community characteristics and community food resources as well as materials for assessing household food security, food resource accessibility, food availability and affordability, and community food production resources. Data collection tools include secondary data sources, focus group guides, and a food store survey instrument. The toolkit was developed through a collaborative process that was initiated at the community Food Security Assessment Conference sponsored by ERS in June 1999. It is designed for use by community-based nonprofit organizations and business groups, local government officials, private citizens, and community planners.

  • 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.

  • Grocery Retailer Behavior in the Procurement and Sale of Perishable Fresh Produce

    CCR-2, September 22, 2003

    This study examines retailer pricing behavior for iceberg lettuce shipped from California and Arizona, mature-green and vine-ripe tomatoes shipped from California and Florida, and lettuce-based fresh salads. A switching regression model is used to examine oligopsony power.

  • Competition in Fresh Produce Markets: An Empirical Analysis of Marketing Channel Performance

    CCR-1, September 22, 2003

    Fresh produce growers/shippers believe that consolidations in grocery retailing may empower retailers to act less competitively. This study evaluates the extent to which retailers exercise market power in buying from growers and selling to consumers.

  • U.S. Fresh Produce Markets: Marketing Channels, Trade Practices, and Retail Pricing Behavior

    AER-825, September 23, 2003

    Retail consolidation, technological change in production and marketing, and growing consumer demand have altered the traditional market relationships between producers, wholesalers, and retailers.

  • Competition Alters the U.S. Food Marketing Landscape

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2003

    As competitive pressures mount to deliver specific products to meet consumer preferences, how products move from farmers to consumers is changing.

  • From Supply Push to Demand Pull: Agribusiness Strategies for Today's Consumers

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2003

    Changing U.S. demographics—more mature consumers, greater ethnic diversity, and larger incomes—are driving changes in consumer demand for food products.

  • Country-of-Origin Labeling: Theory and Observation

    WRS-0402, January 23, 2004

    This report examines the economic rationale behind the various claims about the effects of mandatory country-of-origin labeling, thereby identifying the most likely outcomes. Profits motivate firms to innovate and introduce thousands of new food products each year to satisfy consumers' demand. Yet, food suppliers have generally not emphasized, advertised, or labeled food with U.S. country of origin. The infrequency of "Made in USA" labels on food suggests suppliers do not believe domestic origin is an attribute that can attract much consumer interest. We find little evidence that suppliers would have difficulty supplying such labels if there were sufficient consumer interest.

  • The Demand for Food Away from Home: Full-Service or Fast Food?

    AER-829, January 23, 2004

    Population trends and rising incomes are expected to sustain growth in spending for food at full-service and fast food restaurants.

  • Traceability in the U.S. Food Supply: Economic Theory and Industry Studies

    AER-830, March 18, 2004

    This investigation into the traceability baseline in the United States finds that private sector food firms have developed a substantial capacity to trace.

  • Food Safety Innovation in the United States: Evidence from the Meat Industry

    AER-831, April 01, 2004

    Recent industry innovations improving the safety of the Nation's meat supply include new pathogen tests, high-tech equipment, supply chain management systems, and surveillance networks.

  • Pork Quality and the Role of Market Organization

    AER-835, November 08, 2004

    This study addresses changes in the organization of the U.S. pork industry, most notably marketing contracts between packers and producers, by exploring their function in addressing pork quality concerns. A number of developments brought quality concerns to the forefront. These include health concerns and corresponding preferences for lean pork, growing incidence of undesirable quality attributes (e.g., pale, soft, and exudative (PSE) meat, a result of breeding for leanness), heightened concerns over food safety and related regulatory programs, and expansion into global markets. Organizational arrangements can facilitate industry efforts to address pork quality needs by reducing measuring costs, controlling quality attributes that are difficult to measure, facilitating adaptations to changing quality standards, and reducing transaction costs associated with relationship-specific investments in branding programs.

  • Supermarket Characteristics and Operating Costs in Low-Income Areas

    AER-839, December 15, 2004

    Whether the poor pay more for food than other income groups is an important question in food price policy research. Stores serving low-income shoppers differ in important ways from stores that receive less of their revenues from Food Stamp redemptions. Stores with more revenues from Food Stamps are generally smaller and older, and offer relatively fewer convenience services for shoppers. They also offer a different mix of products, with a relatively high portion of sales coming from meat and private-label products. Metro stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates lag behind other stores in the adoption of progressive supply chain and human resource practices. Finally, stores with the highest Food Stamp redemption rates have lower sales margins relative to other stores, but have significantly lower payroll costs as a percentage of sales. Overall, operating costs for stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates are not significantly different from those for stores with moderate Food Stamp redemption rates. If the poor do pay more, factors other than operating costs are likely to be the reason.

  • New Directions in Global Food Markets

    AIB-794, February 01, 2005

    This report describes how consumer preferences are driving changes in global food supply chains, including growth in private label sales and expansion of multinational retailers and manufacturers in developing countries.

  • Recent Meetings

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    Snapshots of recent events at ERS - June 2005

  • Did the Mandatory Requirement Aid the Market? Impact of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act

    LDPM-135-01, September 16, 2005

    This study focuses on fed cattle markets to compare the mandatory price reporting system developed by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service in 2001 with the previous voluntary reporting system. The study also evaluates whether the mandatory system has improved the amount and quality of information available to the market. Results show that mandatory reporting has given the market additional information about prices for different kinds of sales transactions. The trend toward formula purchases has slowed since mandatory price reporting was implemented, and the volume of cattle moving under negotiated purchases has increased.