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  • The Role of Economics in Eating Choices and Weight Outcomes

    AIB-791, October 28, 2004

    This report uses data from the USDA's 1994-96 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals and the 1994-96 Diet and Health Knowledge Survey to ascertain whether economic factors help explain weight differences among adults. Weight differs among demographic subgroups, and differences in specific behaviors, health awareness, and eating patterns can be linked to weight outcomes. An economic framework helps explain how socioeconomic factors affect an individual's ability to achieve good health. Our results suggest that income, household composition, and formal education help explain variation in behaviors and attitudes that are significantly associated with weight outcomes.

  • Let's Eat Out: Full-Service or Fast Food?

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2004

    To win customers, fast food and full-service restaurants restaurants are offering dining experiences richer in a variety of foods and services. Although many factors could be contributing to the evolution of the foodservice industry, these developments point to changes in consumer demand.

  • Current Issues in Economics of Food Markets

    AIB-747, August 13, 2004

    These reports synthesize economic analyses of the complex relationships in food markets of interest to officials responsible for public policy, decisionmakers in the industry, and researchers. Topics addressed so far include the economizing practices of low-income households in making food purchases, the increasing vertical coordination and integration of the industry, the link between consolidation of retailers and orange juice prices, the effects of a higher minimum wage on food prices, how taxes affect food markets, and lessons learned from the use of rbST in dairy production.

  • 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.

  • Low-Income Households Spend Less on Fruits and Vegetables

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2004

    Higher-income households outspend low-income households on fruits and vegetables in grocery stores and other at-home sources. Fruit and vegetable expenditures averaged $3.59 per person per week for low-income households versus $5.02 for higher-income households. ERS researchers also found that a small increase in income had a positive effect on fruit and vegetable spending by higher-income households, but had no impact on spending by low-income households.

  • Where Will Demographics Take the Asia-Pacific Food System?

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2004

    The Amber Waves article presents findings from "Where Demographics Will Take the Food System," first released at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum Ministerial Meetings in Bangkok, Thailand. For the intermediate term, population growth and other demographic changes such as urbanization are more likely to define food markets than supply constraints.

  • 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.

  • Got Milk? Implications of Generational and Aging Effects

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2004

    Aging and generational effects influence food choices and, hence, spending on specific food groups. ERS researchers found that both the aging of the U.S. population and the succession of the generations are working against at-home spending on dairy products. Older generations spend more on dairy products consumed at home than their children and grandchildren. And, per capita, at-home spending on dairy products falls as people age.

  • 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.

  • The Poultry Sector in Middle-Income Countries and Its Feed Requirements: The Case of Egypt

    WRS-0302, December 03, 2003

    Analysis of world meat production reveals poultry as the fastest growing livestock sector in many middle-income countries, including Egypt. While income growth fuels rising demand for meat, other factors often determine how that demand will be satisfied. Domestic and trade policies, as well as resource constraints, in middle-income countries affect the mix between domestic production and imports of meat and feedgrains. Egypt represents an interesting example of the interaction between domestic production and imports of meat and feeds. Forecasts of derived feed demand for Egypt's poultry industry to 2010 indicate a rising dependency on world markets for imports of feed and meat-choices facing many other middle-income countries.

  • Consumers and the Future of Biotech Foods in the United States

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2003

    When consumers are made aware that food products are biotech, how will they react? As the largest market for U.S. producers, American consumers will render the ultimate verdict on the future of agricultural biotechnology in the United States.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Vegetable Consumption Away from Home on the Rise

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    As the share of total food consumption away from the home has risen over the last two decades, so, too, has the share of vegetables consumed outside the home. Per capita consumption of all vegetables averaged 445 pounds in 2000-02—25 percent greater than 1980-82—with about half the growth ascribed to the away-from-home market.

  • Import Share of U.S. Food Consumption Stable at 11 Percent

    FAU-79-01, July 25, 2003

    As U.S. per capita consumption of food grew from an average 1,800 pounds per year in the early 1980s to more than 2,000 pounds in recent years, the import share of U.S. consumed food climbed from 8 percent to more than 11 percent. The import shares of U.S. consumption of animal products and food crops both increased in the past two decades, with the aggregate share of fruits and vegetables at least twice as large as that of animal products.

  • Consumer-Driven Agriculture: Changing U.S. Demographics Influence Eating Habits

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2003

    Beyond our bustling cities, America's farmlands are ostensibly a Norman Rockwell picture of calm and stability. Red barns, majestic silos, rustic farmhouses, and pastures of grazing livestock are reassuring images that recall a seemingly simpler age. Yet just beyond the old-fashioned barn door are the products of a telecommunications age that have transformed farming into a modern and global business.

  • Dietary Differences Masked by Averages

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2003

    As the rates of obesity and related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, continue to rise, the quality of our diets is being increasingly scrutinized by health professionals in both the public and private sectors. The diets of different sociodemographic groups are of particular interest to public health officials because of the disparities among these groups in terms of incidence of certain diseases, like obesity. With better knowledge of the dietary differences associated with gender, education, income, race, and ethnicity, public health officials can identify groups that are particularly vulnerable to poor health and devise appropriate strategies.

  • Factors Affecting U.S. Mushroom Consumption

    VGS-29501, March 31, 2003

    U.S. mushroom consumption has been increasing over the past several decades. Basic knowledge of the distribution of mushroom consumption across different market channels, geographic regions, and population groups has been very limited in the past. Using data from USDA's 1994-96 and 1998 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, this article examines the consumption distribution of fresh-market and processed mushrooms in the United States. The analysis indicates that per capita mushroom consumption is greatest in the West and Midwest. A little more than half of fresh-market mushrooms are purchased at retail and consumed at home, while three-fourths of processed mushrooms are consumed at home. Per capita mushroom use is highest among men and women aged 20-39, and weakest for children under the age of 12.

  • Hold the Fries: Older Americans and Food Choices

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    Though older Americans spend less on food away from home, they consume more fish and potatoes other than french fries, both away from home and at home. Older people also eat more vegetables at home. Overall, the age factor alone reduces total per capita consumption of fried potatoes, beef, poultry, cheese, sugar, grains, and tomatoes.