"Economic Information Bulletin 71: How Much Do Fruits and Vegetables Cost?"

Economic Information Bulletin 71: How Much Do Fruits and Vegetables Cost? is a 37-page legal document that was released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on February 1, 2011 and used nation-wide.

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United States
Department of
Agriculture
How Much Do Fruits and
Vegetables Cost?
Economic
Research
Service
Hayden Stewart, Jeffrey Hyman, Jean C. Buzby,
Economic
Elizabeth Frazão, and Andrea Carlson
Information
Bulletin 71
February 2011
United States
Department of
Agriculture
How Much Do Fruits and
Vegetables Cost?
Economic
Research
Service
Hayden Stewart, Jeffrey Hyman, Jean C. Buzby,
Economic
Elizabeth Frazão, and Andrea Carlson
Information
Bulletin 71
February 2011
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Recommended citation format for this publication:
Stewart, Hayden, Jeffrey Hyman, Jean C. Buzby, Elizabeth Frazão, and
Andrea Carlson. How Much Do Fruits and Vegetables Cost? EIB-71, U.S.
Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. February 2011.
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A Report from the Economic Research Service
United States
www.ers.usda.gov
Department
of Agriculture
How Much Do Fruits and
Vegetables Cost?
Economic
Information
Bulletin
Number 71
Hayden Stewart, hstewart@ers.usda.gov
February 2011
Jeffrey Hyman, jhyman@ers.usda.gov
Jean C. Buzby, jbuzby@ers.usda.gov
Elizabeth Frazão, efrazao@ers.usda.gov
Andrea Carlson, acarlson@ers.usda.gov
Abstract
Federal dietary guidance advises Americans to consume more vegetables and fruits
because most Americans do not consume the recommended quantities or variety. Food
prices, along with taste, convenience, income, and awareness of the link between diet and
health, shape food choices. We used 2008 Nielsen Homescan data to estimate the average
price at retail stores of a pound and an edible cup equivalent (or, for juices, a pint and an
edible cup equivalent) of 153 commonly consumed fresh and processed fruits and vegetables.
We found that average prices ranged from less than 20 cents per edible cup equivalent to
more than $2 per edible cup equivalent. We also found that, in 2008, an adult on a 2,000-
calorie diet could satisfy recommendations for vegetable and fruit consumption in the
2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (amounts and variety) at an average price of $2
to $2.50 per day, or approximately 50 cents per edible cup equivalent.
Keywords: food prices, food budgeting, fruit and vegetable consumption, 2010 Dietary
Guidelines for Americans
Acknowledgments
For their thoughtful comments and assistance, the authors would like to thank Elise Golan,
Abebayehu Tegene, Gary Lucier, Fred Kuchler, and Mark Denbaly (Economic Research
Service, USDA), Mark Lino, Kristin Koegel, Robert Post, and Patricia Britten (Center for
Nutrition Policy and Promotion, USDA), Mykel Taylor (Washington State University),
and Diana Cassady (University of California, Davis). Thanks also to Priscilla Smith and
Linda Hatcher for editorial assistance and to Cynthia A. Ray for graphic design.
Contents
Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
How Do We Estimate the Cost of Fruits and Vegetables? . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Selecting the Foods To Price . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Estimating the Average Retail Prices of Selected Foods . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Estimating Average Prices per Edible Cup Equivalent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Average Fruit Prices in 2008. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Fresh Fruit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Canned Fruit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Frozen Fruit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Fruit Juice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Dried Fruit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Average Vegetable Prices in 2008. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Fresh Vegetables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Canned Vegetables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Frozen Vegetables. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Beans and Peas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
ii
How Much Do Fruits and Vegetables Cost? / EIB-71
Economic Research Service/USDA
Summary
What Is the Issue?
Federal dietary guidance advises Americans to consume more vegetables and
fruits because most Americans do not consume the recommended quantities
or variety. Food prices, along with taste, convenience, income, and awareness
of the link between diet and health, shape food choices. This research updates
previous estimates of vegetable and fruit prices, and estimates the cost of
satisfying recommendations for adult vegetable and fruit consumption in the
2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
What Are the Major Findings?
We estimated the average retail prices of 153 fresh and processed vegetables
and fruits, where processed includes frozen, canned, and dried vegetables and
fruits as well as 100% fruit juice. We also estimated the average price per
edible cup equivalent for each vegetable and fruit. This is the consumption
unit used in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and measures only
the edible portion of a food once it has been cooked or otherwise prepared for
consumption. In 2008:
An adult on a 2,000-calorie diet could satisfy recommendations for vege-
table and fruit consumption (amounts and variety) in the 2010 Dietary
Guidelines for Americans at an average cost of $2 to $2.50 per day, or
approximately 50 cents per edible cup equivalent.
The lowest average price for any of the 59 fresh and processed fruits
included in the study was for fresh watermelon, at 17 cents per edible
cup equivalent. The highest average price was for fresh raspberries, at
$2.06 per edible cup equivalent.
The lowest average price for any of the 94 fresh and processed vegetables
included in the study was for dry pinto beans, at 13 cents per edible cup
equivalent. The highest average price was for frozen asparagus cuts and
tips, at $2.07 per edible cup equivalent.
Processed fruits and vegetables were not consistently more or less expensive
than fresh produce. Canned carrots (34 cents per edible cup equivalent) were
more expensive than whole fresh carrots eaten raw (25 cents per edible cup
equivalent). However, canned peaches (58 cents per edible cup equivalent)
were less expensive than fresh (66 cents per edible cup equivalent).
Retail prices per pound often varied substantially from prices per edible
cup equivalent. Fresh broccoli florets and fresh ears of sweet corn
both sold for around $1.80 per pound at retail stores, on average. After
boiling and removing inedible parts, however, the sweet corn cost almost
twice as much as the broccoli florets ($1.17 vs. 63 cents per edible cup
equivalent).
Costs in the study are defined as the average prices paid by all American
households for a food over a 1-year period, including purchases in different
package sizes, under different brand names, and at different types of retail
iii
How Much Do Fruits and Vegetables Cost? / EIB-71
Economic Research Service/USDA