Friday, March 20, 2009

For Affordable Food, Nobody Has It Better Than US

According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture, when it comes to affordable food, nobody in the world is better off than American consumers. As a percent of household spending, Americans spend only 5.7% on food consumed at home in 2007, the lowest percent in the world (see chart above).

Even our Canadian neighbors spend significantly more on food than we do, as a percent of household spending. Consumers in most European countries spend at least twice as much as Americans for food, and consumers in most emerging market economies like Mexico, Brazil, India, China and Russia spend at least three times as much as we do, and some spend 6-7 times as much as we do.

In fact, food is so cheap in America, that our main food-related problem is obesity, a problem that Mexico, China, India and Pakistan won't be facing until their spending on food falls somewhere close to the current 5.7% level in America.


At 3/20/2009 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think it affects the point of the post, but international comparisons may not be "apples to apples" if people in some countries (e.g., the U.S.) eat out more often than others. Even if restaurant spending is included, however, I'm sure food spending would be a smaller % of income in the U.S. than most, if not all, other countries.

At 3/20/2009 9:07 PM, Blogger threecollie said...

Wait until the activists get rid of efficient farming methods in their witch hunt against what they call factory farming.

At 3/20/2009 9:31 PM, Blogger fboness said...

Cheap food isn't the cause of obesity. The cause is inappropriate food.

Best plan: If your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food then it isn't food and you shouldn't eat it.

Your food is full of the cheapest stuff available. Soybean oil is cheap. It's in everything. High fructose corn syrup is cheap. It's in everything. Read the labels.

Your food costs will go up if you eat good food. I bought a small jat of mayonaise made with safflower oil (Hain brand) for $4.40 a few days ago. Yeah, that's more expensive than something made with soybean oil. So?

At 3/20/2009 9:34 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

I wonder though, this is only food consumed at home. How often to American's stop at McDonald's or go out to eat a restaurant. Americans are consumers and we eat out more than our counterparts in other nations. I like the statistic but I remain skeptical because it does not include all food spending.

At 3/21/2009 2:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inappropriate food is not the cause of obesity. I lost weight eating nothing but crap. I just ate less of it.

At 3/21/2009 6:02 AM, Blogger pkd said...

It's cheap, but there's a trade-off: it's not only processed, but even the so-called fresh food is often not fresh. Consider the partially frozen "fresh" chickens.

At 3/21/2009 12:58 PM, Blogger Colin said...

"Inappropriate food is not the cause of obesity. I lost weight eating nothing but crap. I just ate less of it."

Yep. Remember the woman that lost weight by eating at McDonald's for every meal?

At 3/22/2009 3:32 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

Professor! This is unmitigated horseshit. This says absolutely nothing about food cost, and leaves out the huge component of eating out. I will grant that that's more of a choice, but when your headline is affordable food, you are committing sins of omission.

At 3/24/2009 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Food at home is a little more than half of total food spending. There is more information on the ERS website.

…The total spent for all food consumed in the U.S. was $1,139.4 billion dollars in 2007, a 5.4 percent increase from $1,081.4 billion in 2006. The ERS Food Expenditure data series indicated that spending on food away from home was 48.9 percent of the $1,139.4 billion in total food expenditures in 2007—spending for food at home was 51.1 percent. Families spent 9.8 percent of their disposable personal income on food—as disposable personal income continues to climb, the share spent on food declines…

NOTE: disposable income and private consumption expenditure (PCE) are not the same, but close measures if savings don’t amount to much.

At 4/05/2009 7:22 AM, Blogger John Phipps said...

This old canard is economic slight of hand. Even the ERS points out the US is in the lead because our income is so much higher - not because food is cheaper.

An American earning the average Mexican wage spends about the same amount or more as the Mexican.

Food consumption does not increase much with income, and we have oodles of rich folks to skew the average higher.

Get real.

At 10/25/2009 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, let me say I agree that the article is a sham, probably to justify rising prices accross the board, while most of us make less or nothing these days.

Those that believe eating bad foods in smaller anouts, follwed by weight loss is an indication of health are missing a certain important point. Compare the food you eat to the air you breathe. The exaggerated (maybe not so much in some cases) equivalent of your junk food weight loss, would be to say "I bagged my face to the car exhaust but since I poked a few holes in the bag, I breathe much better now."


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