Magazine article Amber Waves

Shares of Food Commodities Purchased Away from Home Vary by Commodity

Magazine article Amber Waves

Shares of Food Commodities Purchased Away from Home Vary by Commodity

Article excerpt

Food awayfrom home-food prepared by restaurants with waitstaff,fastfood places, and other eating out places-is nowa routine part of Americans' diets; it accounted for 34 percent of total caloric intake in 2011-12. But what proportion of food commodities is purchased at grocery stores (food at home) versus away-from-home outlets, and have these proportions changed over time? Such information can help commodity producers and nutritionists target their marketing and educational efforts in the appropriate outlets.

ERS's Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) data, as an approximation of food consumption, show year-to-year changes in food commodities available for consumption. ERS researchers used data from 4 national food-intake surveys conducted between 1994 and 2008 to disaggregate 63 LAFA commodities into 2 food sources-food at home and food away from home defined by where a food was acquired. Foods obtained at grocery stores, supercenters, and other food retailers were classified as food at home, and foods obtained from restaurants, fast food places, school cafeterias, and other away-from-home eating places were classified as food away from home.

On average between 1994 and 2008, over 80 percent of total fruit, dairy, and nuts were obtained from food-at-home sources, whereas 61 percent of all meats and fish were obtained from food-at-home sources. Over time, the at-home shares of some commodities (e.g. berries, fluid milk, caloric sweeteners, and nuts) rose, while others (e.g., chicken and wheat flour) declined.

At-home shares of fruit and vegetable were stable over time, higher for fruit than for vegetables

LAFA data indicate that fruit consumption was stable during 1994-2004 at 126 pounds per person, but declined to 119 pounds per person per year during 2007-08. Eighty-seven percent of fruit were obtained from at-home sources during 1994-2008, ranging from a high of 94 percent for bananas to a low of 75 percent for grapefruit, lemons, limes, and tangerines. Flavor, healthfulness, convenience, and year-round availability have contributed to increasing consumer demand for berries, with per capita availability growing from 4.5 pounds per year during 1994-98 to 6.6 pounds during 2007-08. The at-home share of berries rose from 83 percent during 1994-98 to 89-91 percent during 2003-08. …

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