Publications

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  • Retail Food Price Forecasting at ERS

    TB-1885, June 08, 2000

    Forecasting retail food prices has become increasingly important to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is due to the changing structure of food and agricultural economies and the important signals the forecasts provide to farmers, processors, wholesalers, consumers, and policymakers. The American food system is going through fundamental structural changes. It is unclear how these changes will affect the cyclical variation of food price markups and translate into changes in retail food prices. The only government entity that systematically examines food prices and provides food price forecasts (on an annual basis) is the Economic Research Service, an agency of USDA. This report explains the ERS procedures in forecasting food prices and assesses how changes in the current procedures would improve the quality of the forecasts.

  • Forecasting Consumer Price Indexes for Food: A Demand Model Approach

    TB-1883, March 01, 2000

    Forecasting food prices is an important component of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's short-term outlook and long-term baseline forecasting activities. A food price-forecasting model is developed by applying an inverse demand system, in which prices are functions of quantities of food use and income. Therefore, these quantity and income variables can be used as explanatory variables for food price changes. The empirical model provides an effective instrument for forecasting consumer price indexes of 16 food categories. ERS AutoFAX summary document # 01733. Contact: khuang@ers.usda.gov.

  • Moving Toward the Food Guide Pyramid: Implications for U.S. Agriculture

    AER-779, July 02, 1999

    Recent studies show that average diets differ considerably from Food Guide Pyramid recommendations. The gap between current consumption and recommendations is particularly large for caloric sweeteners, fats and oils, fruits, and certain vegetables, notably dark-green leafy and deep-yellow vegetables, and dry beans, peas, and lentils. The change in food consumption needed to meet Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendations will result in adjustments in U.S. agricultural production, trade, nonfood uses, and prices. The net adjustment in crop acreage is projected to be relatively small, about 2 percent of total cropland in 1991-95. However, this small net adjustment masks larger anticipated changes for some sectors, particularly sweeteners, fats and oils, and citrus fruits.

  • Food Cost Review, 1950-97

    AER-780, June 01, 1999

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  • Food Consumption, Prices, and Expenditures, 1970-97

    SB-965, April 02, 1999

    This annual bestseller presents historical data on food consumption, prices, and expenditures by commodity and commodity group, supply and use, prices, total expenditures, and U.S. income and population. Includes 29 charts dealing with food consumption trends, from changes in per capita consumption, to share of income spent for food.

  • Food Cost Indexes for Low-Income Households and the General Population

    TB-1872, February 01, 1999

    The results of this study indicate that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has not systematically overestimated or underestimated the food costs incurred by the general population. True-cost-of-food indexes calculated for the general population tend to be the same as or slightly lower then the CPI except for 1994 and 1995. The true-cost indexes also indicate that there are economies to household size, that black households incur lower costs than nonblack households, and that the households in the West tend to have the highest costs. True-cost indexes for low-income households tend to be about the same as the CPI for one-person households, and lower than the CPI for two- and four-person households in all years. This is a significant finding in that components of the CPI for food at home are indirectly used to adjust benefit levels for food stamp recipients.

  • Away-From-Home Foods Increasingly Important to Quality of American Diet

    AIB-749, January 01, 1999

    The increasing popularity of dining out over the past two decades has raised the proportion of nutrients obtained from away-from-home food sources. Between 1977 and 1995, home foods significantly improved their nutritional quality, more so than away-from-home foods, which typically contained more of the nutrients overconsumed (fat and saturated fat) and less of the nutrients underconsumed (calcium, fiber, and iron) by Americans. Since the trend of eating out frequently is expected to continue, strategies to improve the American diet must address consumers' food choices when eating out. This report analyzes food intake survey data collected by USDA over the past two decades to compare the nutritional quality of home and away-from-home foods and examine how the quality has changed over time.

  • Do the Poor Pay More for Food? Item Selection and Price Differences Affect Low-Income Household Food Costs

    AER-759, December 01, 1997

    Low-income households may face higher food prices for three reasons: (1) on average, low-income households may spend less in supermarkets--which typically offer the lowest prices and greatest range of brands, package sizes, and quality choices; (2) low-income households are less likely to live in suburban locations where food prices are typically lower; and (3) supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods may charge higher prices than those in nearby higher income neighborhoods. Despite the prevailing higher prices, surveys of household food expenditures show that low-income households typically spend less than other households, on a per unit basis, for the foods they buy. Low-income households may realize lower costs by selecting more economical foods and lower quality items. In areas where food choices are limited due to the kinds and locations of foodstores, households may have sharply higher food costs.

  • Changing Consumer Food Prices: A User's Guide to ERS Analyses

    TB-1862, June 01, 1997

    ERS uses different economic models to estimate the impact of higher input prices on consumer food prices. This technical bulletin compares three ERS models. In the first two models (referred to as shortrun models), neither consumers nor food producers respond to market prices. In the third model (a longrun model), both consumers and food producers respond to changing prices. The authors simulated the impact of a higher energy price on consumer food prices. The empirical findings are consistent with expected market responses. In the short run, the effect of an increase in the price of energy is fully (or nearly fully) passed on to consumers, because neither food producers nor consumers can immediately respond to changing prices. In the long run, however, the price response of food producers and consumers serves to mitigate the increase in consumer food prices.

  • Developing an Integrated Information System for the Food Sector

    AER-575, August 03, 1987

    An information system for the food sector that integrates measures of prices, quantities, and values provides more information about many developments in the food sector than a system that separately measures prices, quantities, or values. This system allows greater understanding of the sources of food, outlets, food purchasers, and productivity in food marketing.