ERS Charts of Note
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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
In 2022, more than a third of U.S. dollars spent on domestically produced food went to foodservice establishments, which includes restaurants and other food-away-from-home outlets. At 34.1 cents per food dollar in 2022, the foodservice share increased 1.6 cents from 2021 to reach its highest value in the USDA, Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Food Dollar Series. Industry groups add value by transforming the inputs they purchase from other industry groups and selling their output at higher prices. For instance, foodservice establishments prepare meals using food bought from distributors, such as those in the wholesale trade industry group, and utilities, such as gas and electricity bought from establishments in the energy industry group. Prices paid by customers include the value added by the restaurant itself plus the cumulative value added by all establishments before the restaurant. Annual shifts in the food dollar shares among industry groups occur for a variety of reasons, including changes in the mix of foods consumers buy, costs of materials, ingredients, and other inputs, as well as changes in the balance of food at home and away from home. The industry group shares food dollar data are available for 1993 to 2022 in the USDA, ERS Food Dollar Series data product, updated November 15, 2023.
Monday, November 20, 2023
U.S. consumers baking a homemade apple pie for Thanksgiving this year can expect to pay about $8.15 for the ingredients, a decrease of 7.0 percent from last year. Price increases for flour, sugar, and lemon juice were offset by lower prices for apples, butter, and eggs, leading to a $0.61 decrease in the cost of a pie between 2022 and 2023. The price of the main ingredient, Granny Smith apples, fell 7.5 percent from $1.52 per pound in October 2022 to $1.41 per pound in October 2023. Prices decreased the most for eggs (38.6 percent), followed by butter (6.2 percent), between October 2022 and October 2023. Prices increased the most for lemons (20.0 percent) and sugar (16.0 percent), though those ingredients contribute only a small share to the total cost of a pie. If serving the apple pie à la mode, ice cream adds an additional $0.38 per scoop, an increase of $0.02 from last year. The most recent average price data are from October, meaning prices for Thanksgiving week may vary. For example, savings may occur if grocers offer holiday discounts. USDA, Economic Research Service tracks aggregate food category prices and publishes price forecasts in the monthly Food Price Outlook data product, which will next be updated on November 22, 2023.
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
U.S. farm establishments received 14.9 cents per dollar spent on domestically produced food in 2022 as compensation for farm commodity production. This portion, called the farm share, is a decrease of 0.3 cents from a revised 15.2 cents in 2021. The farm share covers operating expenses as well as input costs from nonfarm establishments. The remaining portion of the food dollar, known as the marketing share, covers the costs of getting domestically produced food from farms to points of purchase, including costs related to transporting, processing, and selling to consumers. One of the factors behind the long-term downward trend in the farm share is an increasing proportion of food-away-from-home spending. Farm establishments receive a lower portion of dollars spent on food away from home because of the added costs of preparing and serving meals. The USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) uses input-output analysis to calculate the farm and marketing shares of a food dollar, which is an average of all domestic expenditures on U.S. food. The data for this chart can be found in the ERS Food Dollar Series data product, updated November 15, 2023.
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Households spend more money on food as their incomes rise, but the amount spent represents a smaller share of their overall budgets. When U.S. households were divided into five equal groups, or quintiles, by household income, households in the lowest income quintile had an average after-tax income of $16,337 and spent an average of $5,090 on food (about $98 a week) in 2022. Households in the highest income quintile, with an average after-tax income of $196,794, spent an average of $15,713 on food (about $302 a week) in 2022. As households gain more disposable income, they often shift to more expensive food options, including dining out. Food spending as a share of income rose across all income quintiles in 2022 as food prices increased faster than the overall inflation rate. Food prices increased 9.9 percent in 2022, the largest annual increase since 1979, and food-at-home (grocery) prices increased 11.4 percent. However, despite these large price increases, households’ share of income spent on food in 2022 was lower than in 2019 for the lowest three income quintiles and nearly the same for the highest two income quintiles. In 2022, food spending represented 31.2 percent of the lowest quintile’s income, 13.4 percent of income for the middle quintile, and 8.0 percent of income for the highest quintile. This chart appears in the Food Prices and Spending section of the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials data product.
Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Rural U.S. counties that economically depend on natural amenities, tourism, and recreation generally had more options for dining out per 1,000 people in 2019 than those with other leading industries, such as mining, manufacturing, or farming. Roughly 2,000 U.S. counties were considered rural in 2019, where rural is broadly defined as any area that is nonmetropolitan. About 12 percent of those counties had recreation as their primary industry. Those rural, recreation-dependent counties had nearly 3.5 restaurants and other food-away-from-home (FAFH) establishments per 1,000 people, higher than rural counties dependent on other industries. Other types of rural economies had fewer restaurants and other FAFH outlets per 1,000 people, ranging from 2.2 outlets per 1,000 people in farming-dependent counties to 2.6 in mining-dependent counties. Metropolitan counties had average densities between 1.4 and 3.1 FAFH establishments per capita. This chart appears in the ERS Amber Waves article, Among Rural U.S. Counties, Those With Recreation-Dependent Economies Had Most Options Per Capita for Dining Out in 2019, published in August 2023.
Monday, August 14, 2023
Errata: On August 16, this chart was updated with the correct year for when a similar level of income was previously spent on food. No other data were affected.U.S. consumers spent an average of 11.3 percent of their disposable personal income (DPI) on food in 2022, a level not observed since 1991. DPI is the amount of money U.S. consumers have left to spend or save after paying taxes. Consumers spent 5.62 percent of their incomes on food at supermarkets, convenience stores, warehouse club stores, supercenters, and other retailers (food at home) in 2022 and 5.64 percent on food at restaurants, fast-food establishments, schools, and other places offering food away from home. In 2022, the share of DPI spent on total food had the sharpest annual increase (12.7 percent). This followed an 8.2-percent decline, the sharpest annual drop in total food spending since 1967, during the first year of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020. The recent volatility in spending was driven by consumers’ sudden drop in eating out at the beginning of the pandemic followed by a return to food-away-from-home purchases as pandemic-related restrictions and concerns eased. The chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials and Food Expenditure Series data product, updated July 2023.
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
Retail food prices increased 4.8 percent in the first 6 months of 2023, lower than the rate of midyear inflation in 2022 (8.2 percent). The 20-year average for midyear inflation from 2002 to 2021 was 1.6 percent. All food categories except for sugar and sweets experienced smaller price increases through the first half of 2023 compared with the same period in 2022. Prices for eggs increased the most (13.7 percent) so far in 2023, followed by fats and oils (8.7 percent), and cereals and bakery products (8.0 percent). All food categories increased in price in the first 6 months of 2023 compared with 2022, but the increases for meats (0.4 percent), fresh fruits (0.4 percent), fish and seafood (0.7 percent), and fresh vegetables (0.9 percent) were below their historical average price increases. Inflationary pressures and trends differ by food category. For example, egg prices reached historically high levels early in 2023 because of an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), though prices have since fallen from their peak. Prices will continue to change during the remainder of 2023 and may affect the annual inflation rate. The USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) Food Price Outlook projects food-at-home prices will increase 4.9 percent in 2023, with a prediction interval of 3.7 to 6.1 percent, and was last updated July 25, 2023.
Monday, July 17, 2023
Real, or inflation-adjusted, annual food spending in the United States increased steadily from 1997 to 2022, except in 2008 and 2009 during the Great Recession and in 2020 during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Food spending includes food at home (FAH), described as food intended for off-premises consumption from retailers such as grocery stores, and food away from home (FAFH), described as food purchased at outlets such as restaurants or cafeterias. Total food spending increased 70 percent from 1997 to 2022. During this period, FAH spending increased at a slower rate (53 percent) than for FAFH (89 percent). Total food spending increased on an annual basis by 7.2 percent in 2021 and 4.5 percent in 2022. FAFH spending increases (19 percent in 2021 and 8 percent in 2022) drove overall increases in food spending. FAH spending increased by 4 percent in 2021 but fell by 2 percent in 2022. The data for this chart come from the USDA Economic Research Service’s Food Expenditure Series data product, updated in June 2023.
Monday, July 10, 2023
U.S. households shifted away from buying foods at restaurants and other food service venues to food-at-home (FAH) outlets such as grocery stores and other retail establishments in 2020. The largest FAH shifts came from a category designated by USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) as “all other FAH,” which includes prepared meals and salads, desserts, and foods not elsewhere classified such as soups, savory snacks, candy, sweeteners, margarine, and butter. “All other FAH” was by far the largest FAH category before 2020, and its share of the household food budget increased by 2.6 percentage points in 2020 compared with the period from 2016 to 2019. However, this increase was unevenly distributed across racial and ethnic populations and among subcategories within “all other FAH.” All U.S. racial and ethnic subpopulations except Hispanic households increased their total food budget share for “all other FAH” during this period. Black households increased their budget shares for “all other FAH” the most, followed by Asian households. The increase by Asian households on “all other FAH” was driven by a 1.6-percentage-point rise in prepared meals and salads and a 1.8-percentage-point increase in other, not elsewhere classified foods, such as snacks. In contrast, Black households had a larger increase in other, not elsewhere classified foods (2.0 percentage points) and desserts (1.4 percentage points). This chart appears in the ERS Amber Waves article, New Analysis Approach Illuminates Differences in Food Spending Across U.S. Populations, published in May 2023.
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
For Fourth of July cookouts this year, cheeseburgers could cost more than they did in 2022. In May 2023, the ingredients for a home-prepared ¼-pound cheeseburger totaled $2.17 per burger, an increase of 10 cents (4.9 percent) from 2022. Prices for cheeseburger ingredients grew more slowly over the year than prices for all groceries (food at home), which rose 5.8 percent from May 2022 to May 2023. Ground beef made up the largest cost of the burger at $1.24, and Cheddar cheese accounted for $0.37. Both these items increased in price by 3.5 percent between 2022 and 2023 and together accounted for half the increase in costs. Bread prices rose the fastest, by 21.5 percent, and added 4 cents to the cost of a burger between 2022 and 2023. Tomato prices fell slightly over the year, but an increase in lettuce prices added 1 cent to total costs. USDA, Economic Research Service tracks aggregate food category prices and publishes price forecasts in the Food Price Outlook data product, updated June 23, 2023.
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led to large shifts in how consumers spent money on and acquired food. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) researchers recently examined the changes in how individuals acquired food away from home by analyzing spending trends on carryout and delivery. They examined these trends among full- and quick-service restaurants by mobile application types (including mobile website equivalents) from December 2019–February 2020 through April–June 2022. Following the onset of the pandemic (June-August 2020), delivery spending via third-party apps at full-service restaurants tripled while restaurant-specific apps spending for carryout at quick-service restaurants matched their growth. Third-party apps typically offer food from a variety of restaurants, while restaurant-specific apps are operated by the offering establishment. At quick-service restaurants, spending on carryout via restaurant-specific apps doubled by June–August 2020 and more than tripled for delivery orders placed using a third-party app. As of April–June 2022, the increased spending persisted at quick-service restaurants on delivery and carryout via third-party and restaurant-specific apps, respectively. However, the spending levels via all app types at full-service restaurants remained higher than pre-pandemic but declined somewhat from the post-onset jump. This chart appears in the ERS’ : COVID-19 Working Paper: Food-Away-From-Home Acquisition Trends Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, released May 2023.
Monday, June 5, 2023
In 2018, food products labeled “natural” accounted for slightly more than 16 percent of all consumer retail food purchases. USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration require producers to adhere to specific standards or processes to use certain label claims, such as USDA Organic. The “natural” claim, however, has minimal requirements and using the claim on a food product’s packaging does not require that the product provide any health or environmental benefits. Regulatory agencies treat the claim as meaning nothing artificial was added and the product was minimally processed. Even so, consumers sometimes attribute benefits to products labeled “natural,” research studies show. The share of products labeled “natural” varies by food category. The share of spending on “natural” products in 2018 was highest for dairy products (27.7 percent) and lowest for fruits (5.9 percent) and vegetables (5.4 percent). The data in this chart appear in the USDA, Economic Research Service report The Prevalence of the “Natural” Claim on Food Product Packaging, published in May 2023.
Thursday, June 1, 2023
In 2022, dairy farmers received a larger share of the retail price of Cheddar cheese than during the previous year. The ratio of what dairy farmers received for the milk used in making Cheddar cheese (farm value) compared with what consumers paid in grocery stores (retail price), called the farm share, increased to 36 percent from 29 percent in 2021. The farm value of the 10.3 pounds (1.2 gallons) of milk used to make a pound of Cheddar cheese rose 49 cents to $2.06 in 2022 from $1.57 after subtracting the value of the whey coproduct. However, the average retail cheese price increased only 32 cents to $5.76 per pound from $5.44 the previous year. U.S. dairy farmers faced high operational costs and increased their collective output by less than one tenth of one percent in 2022, leaving milk processors and cheese manufacturers to compete for limited milk supply at a higher price. Wholesale prices for Cheddar cheese rose by 21 percent when packaged in 40-pound blocks and by 31 percent for 500-pound barrels. Retailers absorbed much of these wholesale price increases instead of passing them on to consumers. This allowed domestic use of American-type cheeses (including Cheddar, Colby, Monterey, and Jack) to increase above 2021 levels. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) hosted a data training webinar in 2022 on farm-to-retail price spreads and farm share statistics. More information on farm share data can be found in the ERS Price Spreads from Farm to Consumer data product, updated in April 2023.
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Food spending estimates for Washington, DC, differ widely from the 50-State average estimates. From 1997 to 2020, Washington, DC, had higher inflation-adjusted per capita sales at food-away-from-home (FAFH) establishments, such as restaurants, than the State average, although the gap narrowed over time. In 1997, FAFH spending in Washington, DC, was more than 3 times the 50-State average and 1.7 times the 50-State average in 2019 and 2020. The difference could be attributed to nonresident workers commuting into Washington, DC, and spending more at FAFH establishments. FAFH spending per capita in 2019 was 24 percent higher in Washington, DC, than in the highest State (Hawaii). Meanwhile, sales at food-at-home (FAH) outlets, such as grocery stores and supercenters, across the 50 States have steadily increased, with an average annual growth rate of 0.8 percent since 1997. However, FAH spending in Washington, DC, has been more volatile and has trended downward over time. Inflation-adjusted per capita spending on FAH in Washington, DC, was 40.8 percent lower in 2019 than in 1997, before increasing 8.2 percent in 2020 during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. FAH spending in Washington, DC, was roughly equal to the 50-State average in 1997 but fell to approximately half the average from 2017 to 2020. FAH spending per capita in Washington, DC, in 2019 was 37 percent lower than the lowest State (Arkansas). This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s State-level Food Expenditure Series, which launched in May 2023 and provides annual data on food spending for each State and Washington, DC, from 1997 to 2020.
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the United States disrupted the food industry in 2020. Inflation-adjusted total U.S. food expenditures were 6.6 percent lower in 2020 than in 2019. However, individual States experienced varying degrees of food spending decline during this period. The USDA, Economic Research Service’s (ERS) newly developed State-level Food Expenditure Series helps to illustrate annual food spending changes across States since 1997, including Washington, DC. From 2019 to 2020, each State saw decreases in inflation-adjusted, per capita total food spending. The smallest decreases in food spending were in Iowa (2.2 percent), South Carolina (2.6 percent), and North Carolina (4.1 percent). The States that saw the largest decreases in inflation-adjusted, per-capita food spending were Hawaii (15 percent), Washington, DC (13.9 percent), Florida (11.8 percent), and Nevada (11.6 percent). These States typically have large out-of-State population inflows from nonresident workers and tourists. The median change of total food spending occurred in Delaware, with a decrease of 7.2 percent. These spending changes occurred as health concerns and mobility restrictions during the first year of the pandemic led consumers to spend less at restaurants and other eating out establishments in favor of relative cost-efficient outlets, such as grocery stores and supercenters. This chart is drawn from ERS’ State-level Food Expenditure Series, which launched in May 2023 and provides annual data on food spending for each State and Washington, DC, from 1997 to 2020.
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Errata: On April 28, the Chart of Note from Wednesday, April 26, 2023 was revised to correct the 2021 total sales, shipment values, and revenue from food and beverage manufacturing plants. The chart source was also revised to correct the survey year. No other data were affected.
Food and beverage manufacturing plants transform raw food commodities into products for intermediate or final consumption by using labor, machinery, energy, and scientific knowledge. These plants accounted for nearly $1.019 trillion or 16.8 percent of sales, shipment values, and revenue from all U.S. manufacturing plants in 2021, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census’ Annual Survey of Manufactures. Meat processing is the largest industry group in food and beverage manufacturing, with 26.2 percent of sales in 2021. Meat processing includes livestock and poultry slaughter, processing, and rendering. Dairy product manufacturing, which ranges from fluid milk to frozen desserts, accounted for the second-most sales at 12.8 percent in 2021. Other important industry groups by sales include other foods (12.4 percent), beverages (11.3 percent), and grain and oilseeds (10.4 percent). Other foods include snack foods, coffee and tea, flavorings, and dressings. This chart appears in the Manufacturing section of the USDA, Economic Research Service topic page Processing & Marketing, updated March 2023.
Monday, April 24, 2023
The food-away-from-home retail landscape continues to evolve. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) researchers recently examined the changing food-away-from-home landscape in nonmetropolitan counties between 1990 and 2019, with a focus on the most rural counties. As of 1990, full-service restaurants were the most common restaurant type, making up 76 percent of all food-away-from-home establishments in these counties. However, over the last several decades, this composition has shifted. While full-service restaurants remain the most common in rural counties, their prominence has fallen from about 75 percent of establishments to about 50 percent of establishments in 2019. By contrast, quick-service restaurants have become increasingly popular. Quick-service restaurants accounted for 18 percent of the total number of establishments in rural counties in 1990 but have since doubled, making up 36 percent of all food-away-from-home establishments in 2019. This shift could affect overall food options available for consumers in these rural areas. This chart appears in the ERS report, The Rural Food-Away-from-Home Landscape, 1990–2019, released in March 2023.
Tuesday, April 18, 2023
On August 15, the map was updated with the correct non-metro status for Aleutians West, Alaska. The text and other data were not affected.Most U.S. nonmetropolitan (rural) counties had 5 or fewer restaurants per 1,000 people in 2019, and many had fewer than 2. This means people in rural areas had fewer food-away-from-home options when wanting to dine out or grab a quick, convenient meal. Nonmetropolitan areas occupy more land in the United States away from the coasts, so residents of the Great Plains and Northern Plains regions may not only be limited in their own counties, but also would have to travel farther to reach a more urban location where restaurant and other food-away-from-home options are varied and available. A select number of counties are both nonmetropolitan and offer more than 5 options for food away from home per 1,000 people. The primary industry in these counties may explain some of these differences. Counties whose economies are most reliant on tourism/recreation typically host more food-away-from-home establishments per capita than other nonmetropolitan counties. An example of recreation-dependent counties with larger numbers of restaurants per 1,000 people can be found in the Rockies, on the western side of Colorado. This map appears in the USDA, Economic Research Service report The Rural Food-Away-from-Home Landscape, 1990–2019, released March 29, 2023.
Thursday, March 30, 2023
Markets for organic food began emerging in the 1970s as consumers became concerned about the growing use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and their effect on the environment and health. At that time, standards were developed on a State-by-State basis, and organic foods were largely sold in natural food stores. Natural food stores, both large and small, remained the major outlet for organic food sales until the mid-2000s. In 2000, USDA established the National Organic Program and set organic standards for production, along with consistent national labeling. Organic retail food sales moved into conventional grocery retailers, and made up almost 60 percent of retail sales in 2020. Organic food subscriptions such as seasonal fruit baskets, online meal boxes, and other internet sales have created new supply chains for organic food. In 2019, internet sales jumped to 5 percent from 2 percent of total sales in 2012 and rose again in 2020 as consumers responded to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This chart appears in the USDA, Economic Research Service report, U.S. Organic Production, Markets, Consumers, and Policy, 2000–21, published March 2023.
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
The food retail market comprises individual firms, such as grocery stores and supercenters, that sell food products to consumers. The concentration of these retailers’ shares of the market, as measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI), increased over the last three decades at the national, State, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), and county levels in the United States. HHI values range from 0 to 10,000, with higher values reflecting higher levels of market concentration, fewer firms, or increasing disparity between the size of the firms in the market. On average, food retail concentration is higher at the MSA level than at the national level, and concentration is even higher once the market is defined at the county level. As the geographic market area shrinks, the market concentration in 2019 increased from 593 (national) to 1,332 (State) to 1,881 (MSA) to 3,737 (county). Trends in localized markets are likely most relevant for consumers, food-retail competitors, and policymakers. This chart appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service report A Disaggregated View of Market Concentration in the Food Retail Industry, which uses data from the National Establishment Time Series (NETS) to calculate and examine the market conditions of food retailing from 1990 to 2019.