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Food Consumption Trends


USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) estimates total food expenditures for all food consumed in the United States was $1.24 trillion in 2010. Food purchased for home consumption accounted for $646.8 billion or 52 percent of the total.

According to the ERS, spending on food away from home in 2010 was $594 billion or 48 percent. Restaurants, both full-service and fast food, account for about three quarters of all food-away-from-home sales. According to the National Restaurant Association, U.S. adults purchase a restaurant snack or meal 5.8 times per week. The United States has 970,000 restaurants and foodservice outlets. The National Restaurant Association projects 2012 sales at $632 billion, up from $379 billion in 2000. 

U.S. consumers are spending a smaller percentage of their income on food. According to USDA, food expenditures by families and individuals as a share of disposable personal income was 9.4 percent in 2010, versus 11.4 percent in 1990. Food purchased for home consumption accounted for 5.5 percent of total U.S. disposable personal income in 2010. Food purchased away from home accounted for nearly 4 percent of disposable personal income in 2010.

The USDA compiles four food plans for individuals and families for food consumed at home in the United States. Separate food plans are compiled for Alaska and Hawaii. Weekly and monthly costs are calculated for the thrift, low-cost, moderate-cost and liberal food plans. Based on data from June 2011, food for a single male, age 19-50 cost $40.60 a week on the thrifty model and $80.20 a week on the liberal cost plan. A single female, age 19-50 spent $36.20 a week on the thrifty model and $71.80 a week on the liberal food cost plan. The cost of food for a family of four with children ages 6-8 and 9-11 was estimated at $141.20 per week on the thrifty food model and $278.80 on the liberal cost plan. The food plans only accounted for meals and snacks prepared for home consumption.


Food Service Industry, Market Segment, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA.

National Restaurant Association.

USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, USDA. 


AgMRC-Developed Information

Economic Research Service, USDA

Other Information

Links checked July 2012.


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