U.S. Per Capita Food Consumption: Record-High Meat and Sugars in 1994

I t may be chic in the current milieu of diet-health mania to say one has cut back on meat and refined sugars, and people report as much in numerous consumer surveys. However, U.S. per capita food supply data indicate that Americans consumed record-high levels of caloric sweeteners and total meat (red meat, poultry, and fish) in 1994. And, forecasters predict still higher consumption in 1995 and 1996. The American diet has changed considerably over the past decade. Beef consumption, for example, fell 14 percent between 1980-84 and 1990-94, while chicken consumption rose 37 percent and turkey 67 percent (table 1). Egg use also declined, while cheese consumption increased steadily. Consumption of fresh produce reached a record-high level in 1994 (with kiwifruit one of the biggest gainers, increasing 267 percent between 1980-84 and 1990-94). Diet and health concerns, as well as changing relative prices and increases in real (adjusted for inflation) disposable income, compelled these changes in U.S. food consumption. New products-particularly more convenient ones-also have contributed to shifts in consumption, along with an aging population, expanded advertising campaigns, smaller households, more two-earner households, more singleperson households, and an increasing proportion of ethnic minorities in the U.S. population. USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) estimates per capita food consumption, based on food disappearance data (see box). These data represent the amount of food available for human use. They are used as a proxy to estimate human consumption, even though the data may overstate what is actually eaten because they represent food supplies available in the market and do not account for waste.

Issue Date:
May 05 1995
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Record Identifier:
Published in:
Food Review: The Magazine of Food Economics, Volume 18, Issue 2
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 Record created 2017-12-19, last modified 2018-01-22

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