Consumer expenditures report  tracks fruit and vegetable spendingIt’s a funny thing, how we think we don’t really spend any money, yet it somehow disappears. It happens, aided by automated bill pay to utilities, automatic debits from our checking accounts for car loans, newspaper subscriptions, life insurance policies and so on.

What have I bought in the past month? Yes, I recall various fast food runs, a few gas station fill-ups, but beyond that I’m stumped.

Okay, perhaps I stretch my reality a little.

Getting down to the fine details of how all of us spend money is a tall task, true, but the government has its top men working on it. They have published a report called “Consumer Expenditures,” and it also gives the fruit and vegetable trade some numbers to put under the magnifying glass.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report, tracks consumer expenditures in 2012.

Another companion report looks at consumer expenditures by state over the 2007-2012 period 

 What can the fruit and vegetable industry glean from the reports?

 From the 2012 report, some excerpts on food.

 Food: Expenditures on food increased for all but the lowest two income quintiles in 2012. This differs from 2011, when food expenditures increased in all income quintiles. In 2012, the fourth income quintile registered the largest percentage increase in food expenditures, an increase of 4.9 percent from $7,466 in 2011, to $7,831. This reflected a 5.3-percent increase in food at home spending and a 4.4-percent increase in food away from home expenditures. The first and second income quintiles had decreases in overall food expenditures of 1.3 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. This contrasts with increases of 7.2 percent (lowest quintile) and 10.6 percent (second quintile) in 2011. The decrease in food spending for the lowest income quintile was spread evenly among the food subcomponents: food at home decreased by 1.3 percent and food away from home decreased by 1.2 percent. There was an increase in food expenditures for all age groups except the 35 to 44 year old and the 65-year and older groups between 2011 and 2012. The 25 to 34 year old age group had the highest percentage increase in overall food expenditures, with spending rising 4.9 percent in 2012. Spending on food by older age groups decreased by 0.2% in the 65 to 74-year old group and by 6.1% for the 75 years and older group. This differs from 2011, where both of these groups increased spending on food.”


 TK: The 23-page 2012 Consumer Expenditures is a treasure trove of statistics, including data on how much the average household spends on fruits and vegetables. For 2012, the report says the average household ($65,000 income before taxes) spent $731 on fruits and vegetables, with the top income quintile ($167,000 before taxes) spending $1,156 and the lowest quintile ($10,000 before taxes) spending only $440. Another table dissects expenditures based on age group, with top fruit and vegetable expenditures in the 45 to 54 age group ($872), followed by the 35 to 44 year age group ($808). The age group with the least fruit vegetable spending were the under 25-age group ($456), with the second poorest showing by the 75 years and older crowd ($580). Gramps and Gran — and their 20-something grand kids —are in the caboose of the fruit and vegetable train.

The state by state expenditure report shows per capita personal consumption expenditures for food and beverages purchased for off-premises consumption were highest in 2012 in Alaska ($3,852), Vermont ($3,622), New Hampshire ($3,616), and Hawaii ($3,615). They were lowest in Oklahoma ($2,179), Arkansas ($2,243), Utah ($2,429), and Alabama ($2,445). Have a feeling that folks in Bama aren’t eating a lot of store-bought fruits compared with their New England cousins. More thoughts on the state report in a later blog post...