Saturday, October 04, 2008

As A Share of Income, U.S. Has Lowest Food Prices on the Planet; Europeans Spend Almost 2X As Much

Click on the chart above to enlarge, it shows the "Percent of personal consumption spent on food by selected countries, 2007" based on data available from the Department of Agriculture.

Notice that spending on food consumed at home in the U.S. is only 5.7% of total household consumption (disposable personal income), by far the lowest in the world, at least for the 71 countries in this study. Spending on food in the EU countries at 12.1% of disposable personal income is more than twice the U.S. rate. Japan's rate of 14.6% is more than 2.5 times greater than the U.S. and even Canada at 9.2% doesn't even come close to the U.S.

Russians spent almost 29% of their income on food in 2007, the Chinese 35% and the Indians 32.4%, levels even higher that the U.S. rate of 21.2% in 1930. That is, the average American in 1930 spent less of their disposable income on food than the average person in almost half of the countries list above spent in 2007.

Bottom Line: When it comes to affordable food (as a share of disposable income), there's no place on the planet where it's cheaper than the U.S. And it's gotten better and better over time, as food expenditures in the U.S. have fallen from 21.2% of income in 1930 to only 5.7% in 2007.

15 Comments:

At 10/04/2008 8:01 PM, Blogger Steamboat Lion said...

I have serious doubts about this data. For example, the data says Australian's spent $2628 per capita while the English spend only $2350 per capita.

This is totally at odds with comparative prices. The UK is part of the EU's CAP which massively increases food prices. Australia is one of the world's great unsubsidised food producers and exporters.

Unless one assumes that Australian's are eating twice as much as the Brits the data is clearly wrong.

As an Australian living in the US (but returning to Australia regularly) I can also tell you that the gap between the US and Australia is also totally at odds with my (admittedly anecdotal) experience.

 
At 10/04/2008 8:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as the dollar remains the worlds reserve currency this is understandable although the implosion of the global credit bubble which has been botched by policy makers so far may bring an end to that reign in the future. That is when it is going to get a little dicey.

 
At 10/04/2008 9:16 PM, Anonymous dave caldwell said...

I have long argued that the slight edge in longevity that Europeans have held over Americans is due not to better health care systems (as the Left would argue), but rather to the much higher cost of foodstuffs in the "Old World"--the relative percentages between the U.S. and Europe have long been available at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Think about it: the demand for food is NOT inelastic: at certain price points, people WILL consume less and when the price of food meets those price points, not only will consumers be more circumspect in their buying, they will also as a result be less prone to obesity. And, by all accounts, obesity accounts for upwards of 70% of American healthcare costs in its afteraffects. The bountiful American food production machine has run head on into evolution and our genetic heritage, a heritage which wants us to store fat at all costs; we may may be technologically advanced but our bodies are little changed from 10,000 years ago when scarcity was the norm and fat was worth more than gold is to us now. Our healthcare system is not to blame for its high costs but rather...Adam and Eve.

 
At 10/04/2008 9:26 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

Cheap ain't good folks! Our cheap food is less nutritious and worse for your health!

 
At 10/04/2008 9:31 PM, Blogger bobble said...

isn't food subsidised in the US? didn't we just have to 'eat' a $300,000,000,000 farm bill?

food better damn well be cheap here!

and, MP, why don't you ever complain about ag subsidies? instead you tout how cheap food is in the US. well, duh!

 
At 10/04/2008 10:33 PM, Blogger Matt S said...

seconded, bobble. We subsidize our food quite a bit, though we make everyone else cut their subsidies - like in jamaica, where Clinton and neoliberal free market policies helped destroy their self-sufficiency to the point where Jamaicans were importing subsidized dry milk from the USA because it was cheaper than the now-unsubsidized Jamaican dairy industry.

Also, our food sucks. A lot. In Sainsbury's in the UK when I traveled there a few years ago I found the selection to be much more nutritious in general than the US. In Canada, which I visit yearly, the food prices are sometimes higher but there's also a lot less processed junk. As I understand it they don't put so much corn syrup into everything.
And as a struggling college student here, I'm sacrificing my nutrition and future health for your "cheap" food, MP. What a crock of sh*t.

 
At 10/04/2008 11:09 PM, Anonymous qt said...

matt s,

On the up side, you have to consider that the same size bottle of gin that sells for $19.99 in Chicago sells for $53.99 in Canada.

Slange!

 
At 10/04/2008 11:21 PM, Anonymous dave caldwell said...

Um...food subsidies in the US are 1/3 of Europe's. NY Times piece referenced here:

http://tracyw.blogspot.com/2005/10/food-subsidies-for-thought.html

When food is cheap--as in the US--you can buy a lot more of everything, whether it's good or bad for you. Having been to Europe frequently, there is no doubt that that there is a greater variety of food available in the US, although the local cuisine in many Euro spots can be quite enticing. Most major US cities have fare from around the world, at reasonable prices; the same is not true in most of Europe; I have had great Vietnamese in Lousiana. I may be spoiled as I live in New York City but there is very little that is not available here...we have it all. You can eat well or you can eat crap--the choice is yours.

 
At 10/05/2008 2:55 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Australia is one of the world's great unsubsidised food producers and exporters"...

Hmmm, so the Australian government has quit subsidizing wheat production?

"Cheap ain't good folks! Our cheap food is less nutritious and worse for your health!"...

ROFLMAO!

I too have to second bobble's comment on ag subsidies...

So just how cheap is that food?

Two winters ago I was visiting family in Germany and brought a dozen bacon wrapped filet mignon (bought at WalMart) with me...

The price with some special packaging cost me about $100 and I found out that in Berlin that same dozen filets (which didn't look near as nice as WalMarts steaks) was about four times the cost...

I was shocked...

 
At 10/05/2008 4:20 AM, Anonymous Fred said...

Bad news used to upset people. Now it's good news that tweaks their ire. Go figure.

 
At 10/05/2008 5:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too much cheap food from places like McDonalds, JackIntheBox, Burger King, Taco Bell etc. is probably why so many Americans are so fat. Also to many stores selling sodas, chips, candy and other unhealthy junk food even Fry's electronics has junk food lined up at the cash-register line.

If you travel to Spain or France you see less fat people and more people eating home prepared food.

 
At 10/05/2008 6:30 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"If you travel to Spain or France you see less fat people and more people eating home prepared food"...

Hmmm, which Spain is that anon @ 5:44 AM?

National Health Survey: 52% of Spaniards are medically overweight or obese -
(Up from 49% in 2003)

 
At 10/05/2008 7:47 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> In Canada, which I visit yearly, the food prices are sometimes higher but there's also a lot less processed junk. As I understand it they don't put so much corn syrup into everything.
And as a struggling college student here, I'm sacrificing my nutrition and future health for your "cheap" food, MP. What a crock of sh*t.

1) If you don't like it, don't buy it. There's plenty of "more expensive" food out there which isn't "processed crap".

2) You could do something other than eat "processed crap" and actually make some of it yourself from raw ingredients...(not even 'scratch', but from basic sources like pasta, canned and frozen vegetables, etc.) but that would be work, wouldn't it? So you CHOOSE to eat the "processed crap" you're whining about... right?

3) As a result of 1 & 2 above, I think everyone knows where the "crock of shit" sits.

4) Do everyone a favor, including yourself: Go live in Canada year round. Amazingly funny how so many people "hate America", how somewhere else is "so much better!!" but they just don't want to actually have to live there. They just want to screw up this place just like that place is screwed up, instead. The only thing wrong with this place is YOU. Do everyone who appreciates this place a favor, and go to one of those places you think is so much better. We'll happily trade you for someone who grasps how amazingly little "this place" sucks.

5) Bobbie -- feel free to join him. We feed a huge chunk of the world, despite our cheap farm prices. And the people YOU support are at least as responsible for endless farm subsidies as anyone else.

6) Kevin: "Cheap ain't good folks! Our cheap food is less nutritious and worse for your health!" See above. Pay more for the non-cheap stuff and don't eat it, then, and just STFU.

7) "You can eat well or you can eat crap--the choice is yours." -- Precisely, Dave. Jeez I get tired of whining idiots. "I can't resist buying cheap food which I'm certain is bad for me!! Take it all away so I caaaaaaaan't". Morons. You don't like it -- DON'T F***ING EAT IT!!!. Take some responsibility for your OWN lives. And half the nutritional crap you hear is exactly that -- crap. If you just look back at how much the whole dietary "x is good for you" so-called "knowledge" has changed, and, more critically how many times, in just the last 50 years, you'd know what a load of bullsh** it all is. Most of these "nutritionist" dimwits are talking straight out of their asses. What is good for you "today" is bad for you "tomorrow". And vice versa. "Nutrition science" is about as fact-laden as "Global Warming Theory".

8) "If you travel to Spain or France you see less fat people and more people eating home prepared food."
I won't even argue that, though Juandos does -- But that's still a matter of CHOICE. And that's an INDIVIDUAL'S responsibility. It's not the job of some @#$%##^#$^#$^$%^&@$&$%&#$^& GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRAT to tell ANYONE what they can and can't EAT. It's one thing to encourage people to eat more responsibly. It's another to FORCE "healthy choices" down their throats. We've got Smoking Nazis, Language Nazis, and now we're getting FOOD NAZIs. This, folks, is the inevitable result of the GERMANIC SYSTEM OF EDUCATION. Everyone thinks it's "ok" to ram their idea of "right choices" down everyone else's throats. I got THREE WORDS: Go F*** Yourself. Preferably with something covered with thorns or spikes.

9) "Hmmm, which Spain is that anon @ 5:44 AM?"
Heh. A recent Doctor Who episode centered on obesity in the UK. Bet that wasn't completely imaginary, either.

The final point is that, for all this "horrible" food we're eating, our lifespans keep increasing, and our children are taller, healthier, and generally longer living than those of our ancestors. A huge chunk of the "record levels of obesity" crap comes from the simple fact that they've been changing the #$#$%$%# standards on what is an "acceptable" body fat level for several decades now. When you're shifting the standard, well, GEE IT CHANGES. Whoodathunkit?

And most of the childhood health issues that ARE valid come from BAD PARENTING and lousy communities -- parents use the TV as a baby-sitter when they used to make their kids go out and play. Parents let their kids play Nintendo instead of actually going to the park and running around the neighborhood. Schools keep cutting back on PE requirements. "Gawrsh, Mrs. Biskit, Ah dunno why Jonny's so fat!" That problem doesn't need FOOD NAZIS. It needs GOOD PARENTS.

Stop trying to FIX things with Government which AREN'T well-suited to government capabilities. You're trying to slice carrots with a friggin' CHAINSAW, you idiots!

==============================
It all comes down to this --

YOU CHOOSE what works in your life.

If you like to eat 'x', but eating 'x' will shorten your lifespan, then YOU'RE the ONLY one who has any business deciding on whether or not that trade-off is worth it TO YOU. No one is ramming Cheetos down anyone else's throats. If you think doing without 'x' in order to gain a few months more life is worth it to you, then FINE -- YOU get to make that choice -- but you only get to do it for yourself. Stop trying to DICTATE TO EVERYONE ELSE the choices YOU make.

Friggin' damn NAZI bastards.

>:-/

.

 
At 10/05/2008 7:57 AM, Anonymous Lars said...

Agree that our food prices are reasonable, except for the "pork"
forced on us by the dolts in Washington.

 
At 10/05/2008 9:49 AM, Anonymous Fred said...

"Too much cheap food from places like McDonalds, JackIntheBox, Burger King, Taco Bell etc. is probably why so many Americans are so fat."

Look up Dan Gorske. He is in the Guiness book of World Records for eating a Big Mac every day (with a few misses) since they were introduced.

I've seen him at the McDonalds on Military road in Fond du Lac, Wi. He looks fit and trim.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home