According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, the average U.S. household spent $1,773 per person on food in 1998. Of this amount, consumers spent 38 percent on food outside the home. The average person surveyed consumed $296.74 in meat, poultry, fish and eggs; $124.56 in dairy products; and $191.73 in fruits and vegetables.

These figures are based on a recently released ERS research report on the food spending habits in approximately 100,000 American households collected during 1997 and 1998 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

ERS researchers also evaluated consumer spending habits by region. Here are some of the results:


  • Northeast households spent the most at $1,940 per person on food, of which $759 was for food consumed away from home. These consumers had the highest poultry expenditures.
  • Southern consumers spent the least on food, totaling $1,684 per person, of which $646 was for food consumed away from home. These consumers spent more for pork and less for cheese than the other regions.
  • Midwest consumers spent the least on seafood and poultry than the other regions, but the most on prepared soups.
  • Western consumers spent more on eggs than any other region.



For more information about the report, contact Noel Blisard, ERS, (202) 694-5445 or log on to the ERS Web site at www.ers.usda.gov.