Saturday, February 7, 2009

USDA ERS: Report to Congress on canned f/v consumption

This USDA ERS report, though issued September 2008, escaped my notice until now. Called "Canned Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in the United States: A Report to the United States Congress" the 44-page report was done in response to a request from Congress. From the abstract:

Senate Report 110-134 requested that the Economic Research Service prepare and publish a report regarding consumer perceptions and consumption of canned fruits and vegetables. Economic Research Service researchers used USDA’s food consumption survey data, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey data, and the ERS Food Availability Data System to study U.S. consumption of selected fruits and vegetables with available data, including select canned fruits and vegetables. If current trends prevail, total fruit and vegetable availability will continue to increase but canned fruits and vegetables will account for a declining share of that total. However, there are several divergent and offsetting forces that make it difficult to predict the future demand for canned produce.

TK: I'm not sure if the oxymoronic expression "canned produce" passes muster. But here is more from the summary, regarding the study's findings:

American consumers are consuming more produce, and they prefer it non-canned. Using food availability data as a proxy for consumption, the amount of fruit available for consumption rose 13 percent between 1970 and 2005, and the amount of vegetables available for consumption increased 23 percent. Most of these increases were for fresh fruits and vegetables. Although the per capita quantity of canned vegetables increased slightly, canned vegetables’ share of total vegetables fell from 30 percent to 25 percent. Per capita availability of canned fruit decreased by 37 percent, and canned fruits’ share of total fruit decreased from 11 percent to 6 percent. Consumer spending for canned produce varies across economic and demographic groups. Analysis of household spending on both fresh and canned fruits and vegetables shows considerable variation in spending on canned produce and that spending was affected by social and demographic factors. Higher income households tend to spend more per capita on canned fruits and vegetables than do lower income households. The same holds true for households headed by older persons, compared with their younger counterparts. Households with children tend to spend relatively less on canned fruits and vegetables. Hispanic households have lower expenditures on canned fruits than other ethnic groups. Asians spend the least on canned vegetables, while African Americans spend the most. Looking ahead, market trends suggest that the share of canned produce in total consumption will continue to decline. However, several divergent forces may affect that outcome. The U.S. population is expected to become wealthier, older, better educated, and more ethnically diverse in the long run. Many economic, social, and demographic changes will occur simultaneously, and some will have offsetting effects on the demand for canned fruits and vegetables. For example, a wealthier and older population is likely to spend more on canned fruits and vegetables. However, growth in the Hispanic population, who tend to spend less on canned produce than the rest of the population, may head demand for canned produce in the opposite direction. Consequently, it is difficult to predict the future demand for canned fruits and vegetables. However, if the trends shown in the food availability data prevail in the future, total per capita consumption of fruits and vegetables will continue to increase and the canned share of fruits and vegetables will continue to decline.

TK: I can't see how canned fruit and vegetable consumption increases on a per capita basis with income growth. My thinking is that higher income consumers would choose fresh first and trade down to canned and frozen.In general, I think the USDA report is positive for the fresh industry, as most Americans continue to prefer their produce "non-canned."

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