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Profiling Food Consumption in America | 15

food market, expanded advertising pro- grams, and increases in nutrient-enrich- ment standards and food fortification. Sociodemographic trends also driving changes in food choices include smaller households, more two-earner house- holds, more single-parent households, a taller population, an aging population, and increased ethnic diversity.

ERS estimates per capita food and nutri- ent supplies based on food disappear- ance data. These data are used as a proxy to estimate human consumption. The data reported in tables 2-1 through 2-6 are unadjusted for spoilage and waste, so they may overstate what is actually eaten. The data are used more appropriately as indicators of trends in consumption over time.

Meat Consumption at Record High

Now more than ever, America is a Nation of meat eaters. In 2000, total meat con- sumption (red meat, poultry, and fish) reached 195 pounds (boneless, trimmed- weight equivalent) per person, 57 pounds above average annual consumption in

the 1950s (table 2-1). Each American consumed an average of 7 pounds more red meat than in the 1950s, 46 pounds more poultry, and 4 pounds more fish and shellfish. Rising consumer incomes, especially with the increase in two-in- come households, and meat prices in the 1990s that were often at 50-year lows, when adjusted for inflation, explain much of the increase in meat consump- tion. In addition, the meat industry has provided scores of new brand-name, val- ue-added products processed for con- sumers’ convenience, as well as a host of products for foodservice operators.

Nutritional concern about fat and cho- lesterol has encouraged the production of leaner animals (beginning in the late 1950s), the closer trimming of outside fat on retail cuts of meat (beginning in 1986), the marketing of a host of lower fat ground and processed meat products, and consumer substitution of poultry for red meats since the late 1970s—signifi- cantly lowering the meat, poultry, and fish group’s contribution to total fat and saturated fat in the food supply. Despite near record-high per capita consump- tion of total meat in 2000, the proportion

The food system has entered a consumer-driven era and diversity within our farm sector is enormous.

Total meats Red meats Beef Pork Veal and lamb

138.2 106.7 52.8 45.4 8.5

161.7 122.34 69.2 46.9 6.2

177.2 129.5 80.9 45.0 3.5

182.2 121.8 71.7 47.7 2.4

189.0 112.4 63.2 47.6 1.7

195.2 113.5 64.4 47.7 1.4

Poultry Chicken Turkey

20.5 16.4 4.1

28.7 22.7 6.0

35.2 28.4 6.8

46.2 36.3 9.9

61.9 47.9 13.9

66.5 52.9 13.6

2000

Pounds per capita, boneless-trimmed weight

Table 2-1

In 2000, Americans consumed an average 57 pounds more meat than they did annually in the 1950s, and a third fewer eggs

Item

1990-99

1980-89

1970-79

Annual averages 1950-59

1960-69

10.7

12.5

14.2

14.7

15.2

320

285

257

236

250

Fish and shellfish

Eggs

Note: Totals may not add due to rounding. Source: USDA’s Economic Research Service.

10.9

Number per capita 374

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