Publications

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  • Food Spending Adjustments During Recessionary Times

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2011

    Faced with falling incomes and economic uncertainty, many Americans economized on their food purchases during the 2007-09 recession, particularly on food away from home.

  • The Expansion of Modern Grocery Retailing and Trade in Developing Countries

    ERR-122, July 12, 2011

    Modern grocery retailing has been expanding rapidly in developing countries, with implications for food demand, farmers' income, and trade.

  • How Retail Beef and Bread Prices Respond to Changes in Ingredient and Input Costs

    ERR-112, February 24, 2011

    The extent to which cost changes pass through a vertically organized production process depends on the value added by each producer in the chain as well as a number of other organizational and marketing factors at each stage of production. Using 36 years of monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics price indices data (1972-2008), we model pass-through behavior for beef and bread, two retail food items with different levels of processing. Both the farm-to-wholesale and wholesale-to-retail price responses are modeled to allow for the presence of structural breaks in the underlying long-term relationships between price series. Broad differences in price behavior are found not only between food categories (retail beef prices respond more to farm-price changes than do retail bread prices) but also across stages in the supply chain. While farm-to-wholesale relationships generally appear to be symmetric, retail prices have a more complicated response behavior. For both bread and beef, the passthrough from wholesale to retail is weaker than that from farm to wholesale.

  • 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)

  • On the Map: Density of Farmers’ Markets Highest in Rural Counties

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2010

    In 2009, the number of farmers’ markets per population tended to be highest in rural counties, after accounting for population differences between counties.

  • Varied Interests Drive Growing Popularity of Local Foods

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2010

    Local foods remain a small portion of U.S. agriculture. But as interest in local food systems has increased, so has the desire to understand how local food markets affect farmers, consumers, and communities

  • Market Share Affects Price Differences Between Discount and Traditional Food Retailers

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2010

    Price differences between traditional and discount grocers were smaller in areas where discount grocers had large market shares.

  • Local Food Supply Chains Use Diverse Business Models To Satisfy Demand

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2010

    Local foods are reaching consumers through an expanding array of supply chain arrangements and marketing outlets. They may be sold in supermarkets; small specialty stores or regional chains; restaurants, schools, or hospitals; or a variety of direct-to-consumer outlets.

  • How Much Lower Are Prices at Discount Stores? An Examination of Retail Food Prices

    ERR-105, October 22, 2010

    ERS compares prices for a wide range of foods in traditional retail food stores and nontraditional discount stores. Findings show nontraditional retailers offer lower prices than traditional stores, even controlling for brand and package size.

  • Recession Brings Record Number of New Store-Brand Food Offerings

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2010

    In 2009, the number of private-label (store brand) food and beverage products introduced by retailers set a new record. Store brands are expanding faster than well-known national brands, as retailers have become more adept at creating profitable private-label brands, and recession-strapped consumers have turned to lower priced foods.

  • Eating and Health Module User's Guide

    AP-047, April 05, 2010

    The Eating & Health (EH) Module of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) collects additional data to analyze relationships among time use patterns and eating patterns, nutrition, and obesity; food and nutrition assistance programs; and grocery shopping and meal preparation. This User's Guide provides detailed guidance to researchers on how to use the EH Module to measure time use and eating patterns.

  • Expanding Demand for Organic Foods Brings Changes in Marketing

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    The past decade has seen major changes in organic product retailing. In the late 1990s, the natural products channel was the primary outlet for purchasing organic food. By 2006, approximately half of all organic food was sold through the conventional channel, which includes chain supermarkets and warehouse club stores.

  • Marketing U.S. Organic Foods: Recent Trends From Farms to Consumers

    EIB-58, September 30, 2009

    Organic foods now occupy prominent shelf space in the produce and dairy aisles of most mainstream U.S. food retailers. The marketing boom has pushed retail sales of organic foods up to $21.1 billion in 2008 from $3.6 billion in 1997. U.S. organic-industry growth is evident in an expanding number of retailers selling a wider variety of foods, the development of private-label product lines by many supermarkets, and the widespread introduction of new products. A broader range of consumers has been buying more varieties of organic food. Organic handlers, who purchase products from farmers and often supply them to retailers, sell more organic products to conventional retailers and club stores than ever before. Only one segment has not kept pace-organic farms have struggled at times to produce sufficient supply to keep up with the rapid growth in demand, leading to periodic shortages of organic products.

  • On the Accuracy of Nielsen Homescan Data

    ERR-69, December 30, 2008

    Researchers use Nielsen Homescan data, which provide detailed food-purchase information from a panel of U.S. households, to address a variety of important research topics. However, some question the credibility of the data since the data are self-recorded and the recording process is time-consuming. Matching purchase records from 2004 Homescan data with data obtained from a large grocery retailer, it is evident that quantities purchased are reported more accurately in Homescan than are prices. Many of the price differences may be driven by the way Nielsen imputes prices: when available, Nielsen uses store-level prices instead of the actual price paid by the household. There are also differences by household type in the tendency to make mistakes that are correlated with demographic variables. However, the fraction of variance explained by the documented recording errors is in line with other research data sets for which cross-validation studies have been conducted.

  • The U.S. Organic Handling Sector in 2004: Baseline Findings of the Nationwide Survey of Organic Manufacturers, Processors, and Distributors

    EIB-36, May 06, 2008

    ERS surveyed certified organic manufacturers, processors, and distributors in the United States to collect information on basic characteristics of the sector, as well as its marketing and procurement practices.

  • Convergence in Global Food Demand and Delivery

    ERR-56, March 17, 2008

    Globalization and income growth are resulting in increasing similarities worldwide in food purchasing patterns and food delivery mechanisms.

  • Food Product Introductions Continue To Set Records

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2007

    A record 20,031 food products were introduced in 2006. Many manufacturers use product differentiation in their food marketing strategy. Many new food products are variations on existing products, such as new flavors, package sizes, brand names, or product claims.

  • The U.S. Food Marketing System: Recent Developments, 1997-2006

    ERR-42, May 31, 2007

    The increasing presence of nontraditional grocery retailers such as supercenters is generating new cost-cutting and differentiation strategies among traditional food retailers.

  • Retail and Consumer Aspects of the Organic Milk Market

    LDPM-155-01, May 22, 2007

    Consumer interest in organic milk has burgeoned, resulting in rapid growth in retail sales of organic milk. New analysis of scanner data from 2004 finds that most purchasers of organic milk are White, high income, and well educated. The data indicate that organic milk purchased carries the USDA organic seal about 60 percent of the time, most organic milk is sold in supermarkets, organic price premiums are large and vary by region, and most organic milk is branded.

  • Cost Pass-Through in the U.S. Coffee Industry

    ERR-38, March 13, 2007

    ERS uses data from the coffee industry to examine to what extent changes in commodity costs affect manufacturer and retail prices.