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Documentation

The Quarterly Food-Away-from-Home Prices (QFAFHP) data are constructed from prices (not including taxes) collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the Consumer Price Index from 1998 to 2012. The data include average quarterly, weighted prices for 20 food-away-from-home (FAFH) and alcohol products for the United States, the four census regions, and nine census divisions, as well as for four establishment types—full-service restaurants, limited-service restaurants, vending machines, and school lunches.

Full-service restaurants are defined by BLS as establishments where a waiter or waitress takes customers’ orders, and payment is made after eating. Limited-service restaurants include establishments where customers pay at a register before eating.

Only prices for entrees and combination meals are included in the average, weighted price calculations for the disaggregated products of full- and limited-service restaurants and schools. For vending machine products and beverages, average, weighted, price calculations are on a per-ounce basis. The weights are based on BLS's sample of outlets from which prices were collected; the weights are designed to ensure that prices are representative of the Nation, census regions, and census divisions. ERS researchers estimated standard errors using a jackknife approach to facilitate hypothesis testing. For more detail about this methodology, see Methodology for the Quarterly Food-Away-from-Home Prices Data. This report provides detailed information about how the QFAFHP data were created, along with basic findings about FAFH and alcohol price variation across geographic areas and time periods.

At the product level, the data include 14 different FAFH products and 6 alcohol products by establishment type:

  • Entrees and combination meals at full-service restaurants,
  • Entrees and combination meals at full-service restaurants, with average prices under $10,
  • Entrees and combination meals at full-service restaurants, with average prices between $10 and $20,
  • Entrees and combination meals at limited-service restaurants,
  • Hamburgers and combination meals at limited-service restaurants,
  • Sandwiches and combination meals at limited-service restaurants,
  • Fried chicken and combination meals at limited-service restaurants,
  • Pizzas (but not combinations) at limited-service restaurants,
  • All Mexican entrees and combination meals at limited-service restaurants,
  • Non-alcoholic beverages at limited-service restaurants,
  • Lunches at kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) schools,
  • Snacks from vending machines (no ice cream or sandwiches, pizza, or similar foods),
  • Non-alcoholic beverages from vending machines,
  • Carbonated beverages from vending machines,
  • Beer and malt liquor away from home,
  • Wine away from home,
  • Distilled liquor away from home,
  • Beer and malt liquor at home,
  • Wine at home, and
  • Distilled liquor at home.

 

Last updated: Wednesday, October 29, 2014

For more information contact: Abigail Okrent