Americans' Food Spending Patterns Explain Devastating Impact of COVID-19 Lockdowns on Agriculture
Keywords:COVID-19, Pandemic, Food Spending, Consumer Purchasing, Agriculture, Direct-to-Consumer Sales, Farmers Markets, Food at Home, Food Away from Home
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service’s Food Expenditures by Outlet data provide insight as to why the lockdowns related to COVID-19 have been so devastating for U.S. farmers. In 2018, American consumers bought a total of $628bn worth of food, of which $460bn was spent at grocery stores and $168bn at warehouse clubs and supercenters (see Figure 1 and Table 1). But expenditures on food away from home exceeded that amount: $680bn was spent at restaurants, $337.8bn at full-service restaurants and $340.2bn at limited-service restaurants. The social distancing and stay-at-home orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic have forced many restaurants to close and those remaining in business to switch to pick-up or delivery only options. Because restaurant supply chains are highly specialized and time sensitive, reallocation of these supply chains has not come quickly enough to accommodate the shifts in consumption toward at-home eating patterns. . . .
 All amounts are in U.S. dollars.
 Not all of this represents the value of agricultural products; a large share of this is value-added in the form of rents and wages.
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