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Abstract

The organization of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, retail food industry was analyzed to determine whether spatial competition influenced the cost and availability of food items. Using a spatial competition gravity variable, the costs of two separate market baskets were analyzed in January 2009, and the factors influencing spatial competition were determined. Store type (chain or supercenter) was found to be the most significant determinant of food costs, validating findings of past studies. Although food was not found to be more expensive in low-income areas, results suggest that residents in low-income and rural areas have disincentives to purchase affordable, available healthy food due to the spatial organization of their local food market.

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