- 02-28-05, 12:18 AM #1
US Fruit and Vegetable Consumption- Who, What, Where, and How Much?
For good health, USDA urges American consumers to eat
more fruits and vegetables—5 to 9 servings per day—and to
choose a healthier, more varied mix of these foods. The
variety of produce available to Americans has blossomed in
recent years, but are consumers responding? The first step
in determining this is to ask who eats what, where, and how
much. Since 2000, ERS has been analyzing data from
national USDA food consumption surveys, and we are
ready to share some highlights.
Eighteen studies of fruits and vegetables have been completed
(available on the enclosed CD). The research
program is ongoing and will utilize data from both federal
food consumption surveys and private scanner data.
Interested readers should check the area "Who eats what
and where" under www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Consumption
for future articles on fruits, vegetables, and other commodities,
such as various meat products, wheat, and sweeteners.
Preferences for fruits and vegetables vary by age
• Seniors eat fewer French fries and potato chips than toddlers;
however, seniors eat more fresh and canned potatoes
than younger consumers.
• Toddlers also like to eat apples, fresh as well as
processed, whereas adults age 20-59 eat the fewest
• Women 40 and older eat the most spinach, while
teenage girls eat the least.
Household income affects consumption of most fruits
• High-income consumers drink more orange juice, while
low-income consumers drink more orange drinks (less
than 10 percent juice).
• Consumption of French fries does not vary by income.
• Compared with low-income consumers, high-income
consumers eat more of many vegetables, including fresh
celery, garlic, cucumbers, bell peppers, mushrooms, and
The at-home market dominates most fruit and vegetable
• Eighty-eight percent of French fries are eaten away
from home; fast-food establishments account for 67
• About 60 percent of catsup is consumed away from
home, and fast-food establishments account for
Agriculture Information Bulletin Number 792-2 October 2004
U.S. Fruit and Vegetable
Who, What, Where, and How Much
Biing-Hwan Lin, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 694-5458
Jane Reed, email@example.com, 202-694-5449
Gary Lucier, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-694-5253
Distinct racial/ethnic preferences exist for fruits
• Black consumers, though just 13 percent of the U.S.
population, account for 21 percent of sweet potato consumption.
Puerto Rican Hispanics consume as many
sweet potatoes as Black consumers.
• White and Hispanic consumers eat more bell peppers
than Blacks and Asians. Blacks eat one-third less per
capita than others.
• Per capita spinach consumption is highest among
• Asians like to eat mushrooms. Blacks eat only one-third
as much as Asians per capita.
• Hispanics consume three times more dry beans per
capita than the national average.
Regional variations are also evident among some
• Consumers in the South eat more fresh cabbage than
consumers in other regions. As for sauerkraut, threefourths
was eaten in the Midwest and East.
• Watermelon consumption is greatest in the West.
Vegetable consumption varies by where consumers live
• Consumers in suburban and rural areas eat about 40 percent
fewer fresh snap beans than those living in cities.
• Suburban consumers eat more cucumbers than other
Fruits and vegetables are consumed in a variety of ways
• Consumers purchase sweet corn as fresh, frozen, or
canned, in nearly equal proportions.
• Processed tomato products account for 80 percent of
total tomato consumption. The largest processed use of
tomatoes is for sauces, followed by tomato paste,
canned whole tomato products, and catsup and juice.
The complete series of studies from which this research
brief is drawn can be accessed at www.ers.usda.gov/
2 Economic Research Service / USDA
Agriculture Information Bulletin 792-2
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex,
religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities
who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET
Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue,
SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
USDA has conducted periodic surveys of household and
individual food consumption in the United States since
the 1930s. The most recent surveys—the 1994-96 and
1998 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals
(CSFII), conducted by USDA's Agricultural Research
Service (ARS)—underpin these findings. Each year of
the 1994-96 data set comprises a nationally representative
sample of noninstitutionalized persons residing in
50 States and Washington, DC. The 1998 CSFII was a
supplemental survey to the 1994-96 CSFII. The supplemental
survey was strictly focused on children.
In the CSFII, 2 nonconsecutive days of dietary data for
individuals of all ages were collected through in-person
interviews using 24-hour recalls. The 1994-96 CSFII
data set includes information on the food and nutrient
intakes of 15,303 individuals, while the 1998 CSFII
data set includes 5,559 children up to 9 years old.
The respondents provided a list of foods consumed as
well as information on where, when, and how much of
each food was eaten. Standardized probes were used to
collect details on food descriptions and amount of food
eaten. Where the food was purchased was coded by
location. Economic, social, and demographic characteristics
were also collected for each respondent. This rich
CSFII database together with the Pyramid Servings
Database and Food Commodity Intake Database
developed by ARS enable researchers to estimate the
market/consumption distribution of agricultural
commodities by many delineations.
How We Determined Who Ate What?
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