Publications

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  • In the Long Run: Food Spending Dipped During Recession

    Amber Waves, March 14, 2011

    U.S. expenditures on food at home and away from home grew over the past 50 years, but food-away-from-home expenditures increased more rapidly. During the recent recession, however, inflation-adjusted spending on both food at home and away from home fell.

  • Will Calorie Labeling in Restaurants Make a Difference?

    Amber Waves, March 14, 2011

    A 2010 Federal law will require U.S. chain restaurants to display calorie information on their menus and menu boards. Will consumers use this information to make healthier food choices?

  • How Much Do Fruits and Vegetables Cost?

    EIB-71, February 01, 2011

    ERS used retail scanner data to estimate the average prices of 153 fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. The report includes estimates of the cost of meeting the recommendations of USDA's recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines

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

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2010

    In a recent ERS study, researchers found that differences in prices at traditional versus nontraditional food retailers were smaller in areas where nontraditional food retailers had large market shares.

  • 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.

  • Fuel for Food: Energy Use in the U.S. Food System

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    Population growth, higher per capita food expenditures, and greater reliance on energy-using technologies boosted food-related energy consumption in 1997 to 2002.

  • Price-Reducing Coupons Have a Dual Effect on Fruit and Vegetable Purchases

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    A recent ERS study examined the use of price-reducing coupons to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption. The study found that coupon effectiveness depends on the amount of the discount and the share of households that redeem the coupons.

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    Indicators tables from the September 2010 issue of Amber Waves magazine.

  • Promoting Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: Are Coupons More Effective than Pure Price Discounts?

    ERR-96, June 03, 2010

    ERS compares the potential effectiveness of coupons versus price discounts in encouraging fruit and vegetable consumption among participants in Federal food and nutrition assistance programs.

  • In the Long Run: Food Product Introductions Buck Long-Term Trend

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2010

    U.S. food and beverage product introductions have increased for most of the last decade and a half. In 2009, however, U.S. food and beverage product introductions fell by 3,519 to 19,047, the second consecutive yearly reduction and the largest in at least 15 years.

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    Selected statistics on agriculture and trade, diet and health, natural resources, and rural America.

  • Retail Dairy Prices Fluctuate With Farm Value of Milk

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    In the late 1990s, a nearly two-decade decline in farm share of retail dairy prices slowed and in 2000-2008, farm share fluctuated between 26 and 35 percent. Consumers saw modest increases in dairy prices over this period until the 2007-08 jump in food price inflation.

  • Vegetables and Melons Outlook: August 2009

    VGS-333-01, August 19, 2009

    Growth over time in the demand for fresh vegetables for at-home consumption may slow because of differences in the behavior of younger and older birth cohorts. A birth cohort includes people born in the same year and is similar in concept to a generation. People born around the same point in history may share common behaviors that they carry throughout their lives independent of age. People born more recently are found to spend less money for fresh vegetables than older Americans do. Changes in how people purchase and consume food may help to explain these effects.

  • 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.

  • Rising Food Prices and Economic Uncertainty Take Toll on Traditional Grocers

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2009

    As prices for many food staples rose sharply in 2007 and 2008, consumers turned to discount supermarkets and non-traditional grocers to reduce their grocery spending. Price-oriented, limited assortment supermarkets and superwarehouse supermarkets posted higher 2007 sales growth than the average sales growth for all supermarkets.

  • Behind the Data: Validation Study Tests Accuracy of Homescan Data

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2009

    Nielsen Homescan data provide a wealth of information about household purchasing patterns, allowing researchers to address questions relating to the dynamics of retail food markets. Households participating in the Homescan panel use a scanner to record prices and quantities of food products purchased at a wide variety of stores. ERS and other researchers have used these data to understand consumer purchase behavior. However, some researchers question the credibility of the data since the data are self-recorded and the recording process is time consuming.

  • An Illustrated Guide to Research Findings from USDA's Economic Research Service

    EIB-48, April 01, 2009

    This book contains a sampling of recent ERS research illustrating the breadth of the Agency's research on current policy issues: from biofuels to food consumption to land conservation to patterns of trade for agricultural products.

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    Indicators table from March 2009 issue of Amber Waves.

  • Working Parents Outsource Children’s Meals

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    Virtually all households take the dollar cost of food into account when making food choices. But for some households, the time involved in planning, shopping for, and preparing a meal is also an important consideration. Findings from the Eating & Health Module of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) indicate that many working parents free up time by "outsourcing" their children's meals--that is, they purchase prepared meals for their children at school or day care.

  • The Roles of Economists in the U.S. Department of Agriculture

    AP-031, January 02, 2009

    Among the many responsibilities of USDA are implementing the Food Stamp Program and other food and nutrition assistance programs; managing Federal forest land; implementing standards of humane care and treatment of animals; providing incentives for adopting wildlife habitat enhancements and other conservation practices; participating in trade negotiations; ensuring the safety of meat, poultry, and eggs; providing funds for rural business development; and implementing farm programs legislated by Congress. The Department has a broad mandate, and virtually everything with which it is charged has economic dimensions. It is not surprising, then, that USDA employs over 800 economists across 16 of its agencies.