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Abstract

This report compares food purchases by U.S. households of different income levels and finds that low-income shoppers spend less on food purchases despite some evidence that they face generally higher purchase prices. Households can economize on food spending by purchasing more discounted products, favoring private-label (generic) products over brand, pursuing volume discounts, or settling for a less expensive product (for example, less lean beef within a product class. A 1998 sample of food store purchase data shows that low-income households adhere to these practices when possible, but that the typically smaller size of food stores in urban and rural locations may sometimes preclude them from doing so.

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