Publications

Sort by: Title | Date
  • Interstate Variation in WIC Food Package Costs: The Role of Food Prices, Caseload Composition, and Cost-Containment Practices

    FANRR-41, January 11, 2005

    Food prices within States affect average monthly costs of State food benefits packages provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) more than variations in WIC caseload composition do. In addition, cost-containment practices by State WIC agencies provide different levels of cost savings in different areas, which also contributes to interstate variation in benefits package costs. This study is one of the few to examine the degree to which food prices, caseloads, and cost-containment practices influence costs of State WIC food benefits packages. Because few data exist on the actual food items that WIC participants purchase, the study used a scanner dataset of supermarket transactions and other sources to estimate the average monthly cost of WIC food benefits in several areas.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Effects of Food Assistance and Nutrition Programs on Nutrition and Health: Volume 4, Executive Summary of the Literature Review

    FANRR-19-4, December 07, 2004

    This report provides a summary of a comprehensive review and synthesis of published research on the impact of USDA's domestic food and nutrition assistance programs on participants' nutrition and health outcomes. The outcome measures reviewed include food expenditures, household nutrient availability, dietary intake, other measures of nutrition status, food security, birth outcomes, breastfeeding behaviors, immunization rates, use and cost of health care services, and selected nonhealth outcomes, such as academic achievement and school performance (children) and social isolation (elderly). The report is one of four volumes produced by a larger study that includes Volume 1, Research Design; Volume 2, Data Sources; Volume 3, Literature Review; and Volume 4, Executive Summary of the Literature Review. The review examines the research on 15 USDA food assistance and nutrition programs but tends to focus on the largest ones for which more research is available: food stamps, school feeding programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Over half of USDA's budget-$41.6 billion in fiscal year 2003-was devoted to food assistance and nutrition programs that provide low-income families and children with access to a healthy diet.

  • How Expensive Are Fruits and Vegetables Anyway?

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2004

    Almost half of Americans think eating more fruits and vegetables would improve their diets, so why don’t they? One argument is that produce is expensive. Yet an ERS study finds that consumers can eat three servings of fruit and four servings of vegetables for 64 cents a day, which represents 12 percent of daily food expenditures per person.

  • How Much Do Americans Pay for Fruits and Vegetables?

    AIB-790, July 20, 2004

    This analysis uses ACNielsen Homescan data on 1999 household food purchases from all types of retail outlets to estimate an annual retail price per pound and per serving for 69 forms of fruits and 85 forms of vegetables. Among the forms we priced, more than half were estimated to cost 25 cents or less per serving. Consumers can meet the recommendation of three servings of fruits and four servings of vegetables daily for 64 cents.

  • The Economics of Obesity: A Report on the Workshop Held at USDA's Economic Research Service

    EFAN-04004, May 13, 2004

    Since the mid-1970s, the prevalence of obesity and overweight has increased dramatically in the United States. The prevalence of overweight has tripled among children and adolescents, and nearly two out of three adult Americans are either overweight or obese. Although high health, social, and economic costs are known to be associated with obesity, the underlying causes of weight gain are less understood. At a basic level, weight gain and obesity are the result of individual choices. Consequently, economics, as a discipline that studies how individuals use limited resources to attain alternative ends, can provide unique insight into the actions and forces that cause individuals to gain excessive weight. In April 2003, USDA's Economic Research Service and the University of Chicago's Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies and the George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State jointly hosted a workshop on the Economics of Obesity. The purpose was to provide an overview of leading health economics research on the causes and consequences of rising obesity in the United States. Topics included the role of technological change in explaining both the long- and short-term trends in obesity, the role of maternal employment in child obesity, the impact of obesity on wages and health insurance, behavioral economics as applied to obesity, and the challenges in measuring energy intakes and physical activity. The workshop also discussed policy implications and future directions for obesity research. This report presents a summary of the papers and the discussions presented at the workshop.

  • USDA Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2013

    WAOB-041, February 09, 2004

    This report provides long-run (10-year) baseline projections for the agricultural sector through 2013. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • India's Poultry Sector: Development and Prospects

    WRS-0403, February 02, 2004

    Poultry meat is the fastest growing component of global meat demand, and India, the world's second largest developing country, is experiencing rapid growth in its poultry sector. In India, poultry sector growth is being driven by rising incomes and a rapidly expanding middle class, together with the emergence of vertically integrated poultry producers that have reduced consumer prices by lowering production and marketing costs. Integrated production, market transition from live birds to chilled and frozen products, and policies that ensure supplies of competitively priced domestic or imported corn and soybeans are keys to future poultry industry growth in India.

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2004

    Indicators: Behind the Data - February 2004

  • 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.

  • International Evidence on Food Consumption Patterns

    TB-1904, October 06, 2003

    This report analyzes expenditures on major consumption categories including food and different food subcategories across 114 countries. It also presents estimated expenditure responsiveness or elasticities with price and income changes for each of the major consumption categories and food subcategories for individual countries in the study. The data in this report are available electronically. See the International Food Consumption Patterns data product.

  • 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.

  • USDA Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2012

    WAOB-031, February 10, 2003

    This report provides long-run (10-year) baseline projections for the agricultural sector through 2012. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • 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.

  • Food Expenditures by U.S. Households: Looking Ahead to 2020

    AER-821, February 01, 2003

    Over the next two decades, U.S. food expenditures will continue to rise. This study examines how projected food expenditures will be affected by demographic changes, population growth, increasing per capita income levels, and other factors.

  • USDA Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2011

    WAOB-021, February 21, 2002

    This report provides long-run (10-year) baseline projections for the agricultural sector through 2011. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Income and Food Expenditures Decomposed by Cohort, Age, and Time Effects

    TB-1896, August 24, 2001

    This report expands aggregate lifecycle expenditure analysis by separating generational or cohort effects from aging effects. This is important since different generations or age groups may exhibit expenditure patterns that are the result of higher incomes and/or different tastes and preferences. Ignoring these generational effects produces income and consumption age profiles that can be misleading. With accurate consumption and age profiles, policymakers can gain a better idea of food intake patterns by cohort, and there-by identify groups that may need additional diet and health information.

  • Household Food Spending by Selected Demographics in the 1990s

    AIB-773, August 15, 2001

    Average per-person total food expenditures, adjusted for inflation, declined about 7 percent between 1990 and 1998, from $2,189 to $2,037. This decline resulted primarily from the average at-home food expenditures per person declining by about 6 percent and the away-from-home food expenditures declining by about 8 percent. Price-adjusted food spending reflects changes in the real price of food as well as any quantity adjustments made by consumers. However, the national average masks the fact that some population subgroups had significantly higher or lower food expenditures than average. For example, while total food spending declined for all demographic groups except female-headed and Black households, these two demographic groups still had the lowest per capita spending. In contrast to this, per-person total food expenditures were greatest for households in the highest income quintile, for one-person households, and for house-holds with heads between 55 and 64 years of age.

  • Food Spending in American Households, 1997-98

    SB-972, June 06, 2001

    Average yearly expenditures on food in urban households remained constant between 1997 and 1998. In 1998, the typical household spent $1,773 per person versus $1,767 the previous year. Of this amount, $1,094 was spent on food consumed at home and $679 on food consumed away from home. In 1997, slightly more was spent on food at home, $1,126, and slightly less on food consumed away from home, $641. Detailed tabulations are presented for 133 food categories and 10 household socioeconomic characteristics for 1997 and 1998. The data are from the Consumer Expenditure Diary Surveys prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.