Publications

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Productivity Growth Lags in Food Manufacturing

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2003

    Between 1975 and 1997, productivity growth for U.S. food manufacturers averaged 0.19 percent a year, versus 1.25 percent for all U.S. manufacturers. Food manufacturing's sluggish growth may stem from the industry's materials-intensive nature and modest investment in research and development.

  • 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. These changing preferences, along with technological advances and other changes in the economy, offer agribusiness companies new challenges and opportunities.

  • 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.

  • Information Sways Consumers' Attitudes Towards Biotech Foods

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2003

    Labeling of biotech foods has been a contentious issue in the U.S. and between the U.S. and its trading partners. Proponents of mandatory biotech food labeling argue that consumers have a right to know how their food has been produced. Opponents argue that such labeling will confuse and, in many cases, unnecessarily alarm consumers. In the U.S., when biotechnology introduces a known allergen or substantially changes a food’s nutritional content or composition, Federal regulations require that the label indicate this change. So far, no biotech foods on the market have required labeling.

  • U.S. Hog and Poultry Marketing: Similar Paths, Similar Outcomes?

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2003

    Recent changes in the structure of the pork industry echo past changes in the poultry industry. How U.S. pork producers and processors sell and buy hogs has changed significantly since 1990. The use of long-term contracts has largely replaced production for the open, or spot, market. Over 70 percent of hogs are sold under contracts, where producers are required to deliver a specified number of hogs to the processor at a specified time. In return, the producer receives the spot price, adjusted for the size and quality of the hogs. These developments raise concerns by some about anticompetitive behavior of large processors and the demise of small, independent farmers. Others emphasize how contracts facilitate steady flows of high-quality farm products for processing, among other benefits.

  • 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.

  • U.S. Foreign Direct Investment in the Western Hemisphere Processed Food Industry

    AER-760, March 01, 1998

    Foreign direct investment (FDI) has become the leading means for U.S. processed food companies to participate in international markets. Affiliates of U.S.-owned food processing companies had $30 billion in sales throughout the Western Hemisphere in 1995, nearly 4 times the level of processed food exports. This report puts U.S. foreign direct investment and trade in processed foods to the region into global perspective, and finds evidence that, in the aggregate for the 1990's, trade and FDI are complementary--not competitive--means of accessing international food markets. Incomes have grown sufficiently in most countries to support growth in affiliate sales and U.S. exports, indicating a strong demand for a wide variety of processed foods.

  • The Food Marketing System in 1995

    AIB-731, April 15, 1997

    The number of new food processing plants rose sharply in 1995. Profitability from food manufacturing and retailing operations (excluding interest expense) continued to increase, reflecting strong sales, wage and producer price stability, and streamlining of operations. The number of mergers and leveraged buyouts fell. New product introductions, consumer advertising expenditures, common stock prices and the positive U.S. balance of trade in processed food reached new highs. This report analyzes and assesses yearly developments in growth, conduct, performance, and structure of the institutions--food processors, wholesalers, retailers, and foodservice firms--that comprise the Nation's food marketing system. Industry growth includes changes in sales for each of the four sectors, product mix, and external economic factors affecting the food system. Conduct measures firms' competitive behavior, which includes such price and nonprice competition as advertising, promotion, new product introduction, new store formats, price discounting, and menu variety. Performance includes profitability, capital expansion, foreign trade and investment, research and development, capacity use, equity market changes, and productivity. Structure developments include mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and leveraged buyouts, and changes in the number of companies and establishments.