Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply

There have been some marked changes in the American food supply over the last two decades. We're using less red meat and eggs and more poultry and fish. We've also cut back on whole milk but are using more cheese, lowfat milks, and creams. Animal fats—butter, lard, and beef fat—have declined in use, while vegetable fats— oils and shortening—have increased. Use of many plant-based foods has risen steadily over the past 20 years, particularly grain products, fresh fruits, fruit juices (especially citrus), fresh and frozen vegetables, and caloric sweeteners. These changes have affected nutrient levels of the food supply. Changes in the quantity of nutrients available are affected by more than changing diets. Technological advances, such as the introduction of new crop varieties, and specific events, such as revised Federal enrichment standards, affect nutrient levels as well. Nutrient levels reported in this article are based on food disappearance data— that is, all food available for consumption from the U.S. food supply—and are reported on a daily per capita basis. Estimates of food available are referred to as food "use" rather than consumption because the data represent disappearance of foods into food marketing channels and have presumably been used up for consumption. Disappearance data presented here do not show ingestion of foods because they do not account for losses that occur after the food is measured at the wholesale/retail level. Nonetheless, these data are useful for indicating trends in food and nutrient levels in the American diet over time. The data presented here are based on food use data through 1988.

Issue Date:
Jul 07 1991
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Record Identifier:
Published in:
Food Review: The Magazine of Food Economics, Volume 14, Issue 3
Page range:

 Record created 2017-12-15, last modified 2018-01-22

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