How much do fruits and vegetables cost? ERS estimated average prices for 156 commonly consumed fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. Reported estimates include each product's average retail price per pound and per edible cup equivalent (the unit of measurement for Federal fruit and vegetable consumption recommendations). For many fruits and vegetables, a 1-cup equivalent equals the weight of enough edible food to fill a measuring cup. ERS calculated average prices at retail stores using retail scanner data from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). A selection of retail establishments across the U.S. provides IRI with weekly retail sales data (revenue and quantity). These retail establishments include grocery stores, supermarkets, supercenters, convenience stores, drug stores, and liquor stores.
ERS also estimated the effect on households' food budgets and children's caloric intakes of replacing one energy-dense snack with a fruit or vegetable, using data from Nielsen's 2010 Homescan panel. Households participating in Nielsen's Homescan panel kept a record of their food purchases at retail stores including quantities bought, amount of money paid, and date of purchase. The price per portion was estimated for 20 snack items commonly consumed by children ages 6-13, including salty snacks, baked and sweet goods, and frozen treats. ERS also identified and priced 20 fruits and vegetables that are potential replacements for these snack foods. ERS estimated average retail prices, following the same methodology for estimating retail prices and per cup equivalents. For this comparison, however, a price "per portion" is estimated, to approximate the actual cost of consuming each food based on current consumption patterns.