Americans Spending a Smaller Share of Income on Food

The percentage of income that Americans spend on food continues to drop. In 1992, Americans spent just 11.7 percent of their income on food, down from 14.2 percent in 1980. The decline mainly reflects incomes rising faster than food prices. Between 1980 and 1992, overall food prices rose 59 percent. During that time, per person income rose 94 percent (from $6,916 to $13,398). The dollar amount of food spending nonetheless continues to rise, but at the same rate (59 percent) as food prices. (Therefore, the numbers indicate that Americans bought about the same amount of food in 1992 as in 1980.) Between 1980 and 1992, annual spending for retail food (food consumed at home) rose 55 percent (from $667 per person to $1,031) and nearly 69 percent (from $318 per person to $536) for foodservice (food away from home) (table 1). Likewise, prices for food away from home rose more than for food at home, 69 percent compared with 55 percent. However, these national averages mask some underlying differences that occur among households of different types and sizes. For example, rural Americans spent about the same as their urban counterparts on food at home but somewhat less on food away from home. These findings are gleaned from a continuing survey of households conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The detailed statistics presented in this article are based on the urban portion of this sample, a group which has been surveyed continuously since the survey was initiated in 1980 and which represents about 87 percent of the noninstitutionalized population. (The rural population was not sampled during some of the early years of the survey.)

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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