Food Spending by U.S. Consumers Fell Almost 8% in 2020

The USDA, Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Food Expenditure Series (FES) provides a comprehensive measure of the total value of all food purchases in the United States. The series tracks spending on food intended to be prepared at home, such as from grocery stores, and food that is prepared away from home, such as at restaurants. The FES allows Government agencies, academic researchers, and industry stakeholders to assess and track developments in consumer food purchasing behaviors and the U.S. food supply.

In 2018, ERS researchers revised the FES, incorporating new source data and improved methods to provide more robust and timely annual estimates. The new series uses data from the Economic Census of the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census annual surveys, and other data from U.S. statistical agencies and trade associations to measure monthly and annual food spending in the United States. The FES has informed recent analyses of how food spending in the United States changes under economic shocks, such as the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009 and most recently the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Recession. ERS published the 2020 update to the FES in May 2021 and publishes monthly FES updates with data delayed by 2 months.

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