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Food Availability and Consumption

ERS’s Food Availability data measure annual supplies of several hundred raw and semi-processed food commodities moving through the U.S. marketing system, providing per capita estimates of the types and amounts of food available to U.S. consumers over time and identifying shifts in eating patterns and food demand. A second data series covering 1970 onward—the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data—adjusts for losses from the farmgate to the fork, including damaged products, spoilage, plate waste, and other losses to more closely approximate per capita consumption.

Per capita availability of chicken higher than that of beef  
In 2013, 57.7 pounds of chicken per person on a boneless, edible basis were available for Americans to eat, compared to 53.6 pounds of beef. Chicken began its upward climb in the 1940s, overtaking pork in 1996 as the second most consumed meat. Since 1970, U.S. chicken availability per person has more than doubled.
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Two percent milk makes up the largest share of fluid milk availability  
U.S. fluid milk availability stood at 19.1 gallons per person in 2013, the lowest recorded since 1909. Plain (unflavored) 2% milk accounted for 35 percent of fluid milk availability—6.7 gallons per person. Plain whole milk availability was 5.2 gallons per person—an 86-percent drop from its high of 38 gallons in 1945. Plain 1% and skim milks each accounted for 14 percent of fluid milk availability.
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America’s sweet tooth not as sweet as a decade earlier  
In 2013, 128.4 pounds per person of caloric sweeteners were available for consumption by U.S. consumers, down from a high of 151.5 pounds in 1999. Availability of total corn sweeteners (high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), glucose syrup, and dextrose) has fallen from 83.6 pounds per person in 1999 to 58.6 pounds in 2013, partly reflecting rising sales of zero-calorie drinks at the expense of HFCS-sweetened soft drinks.
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Close to half of Americans’ calories come from grain products and fats/oils  
Americans consumed an estimated 2,544 calories per person per day in 2010, up from 2,039 calories in 1970. Grains (mainly refined grains) and added fats and oils contributed 398 calories to this 505-calorie increase. Vegetables were the only food group that contributed fewer calories in 2010 (4 calories less than in 1970). In 1970, the meat, eggs, and nuts group provided more daily calories than any other food group.
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U.S. diets are out of balance with recommendations  
While Americans are consuming more vegetables, dairy products, and fruit than in 1970, the average U.S. diet still falls short of USDA’s MyPlate recommendations for these major food groups. Americans, on average, consumed more than the recommended amounts of meat and grains in 2013.
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Potatoes and tomatoes are the most commonly consumed vegetables  
According to ERS’s loss-adjusted food availability data, Americans consumed 48.4 pounds per person of potatoes and 30.8 pounds of tomatoes in 2013. Half of potato consumption was fresh, while 59 percent of tomato consumption was canned. French fries and pizza contribute to the high consumption of these two vegetables. The third highest vegetable, onions, came in at 7.5 pounds per person.
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Oranges and apples are America’s top fruit choices  
Americans ate an average of 117.2 pounds of fresh and processed fruit per person in 2013, down from a high of 131.4 pounds in 1999. Bananas and apples top the list of most popular fresh fruits, with bananas at 11.4 pounds per person beating out apples at 10.7 pounds. Orange juice consumption at 31.3 pounds (3.6 gallons) per person in 2013 combined with fresh oranges at 3.3 pounds per person puts oranges in the #1 spot for total fruit consumption.
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Last updated: Friday, September 18, 2015

For more information contact: Jeanine Bentley