While buying more sweets and processed foods, Americans are spending virtually the same percentage of their budget on fruits and vegetables in 2012 as they did 30 years ago.
A study by Planet Money/National Public Radio released this summer shows consumers spend an average of 14.6% of their grocery budget on fruits and vegetables, compared with 14.5% in 1982.
Processed foods and sweets showed the most dramatic gains over the past 30 years, rising from 11.6% of the grocery budget in 1982 to 22.9% in 2012. Reflecting the efficiencies gained in larger scale animal facilities, the percent of the grocery budget spent on meats dropped from 31.3% in 1982 to just 21.5% in 2012.
The data, compiled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that the percent of groceries spent on dairy products dropped from 13.3% to 11.1%, while the amount spent on grains and baked goods rose from 13.2% to 14.4%.
Comparing 1982 and 2012, the study found inflation-adjusted prices of selected fruits and vegetables (measured in 2012 dollars) showed mixed trends.
The 2012 prices of apples, bananas, lettuce and tomatoes were cheaper than 1982, while grapefruit and pepper prices were higher compared with 30 years ago.
U.S. Grocery expenditures
Meats 21.5% 31.3%
Fruits and vegetables 14.6% 14.5%