Are fresh fruits and vegetables getting their “fair share”?

If seen through the lens of consumer expenditures, the answer is no.

Consumer spending on food was up in 2017, but dollars spent on fresh fruit and vegetables were a tick lower than overall food spending.

In midyear tables tracing consumer expenditures from July 2016 to July 2017, statistics showed that overall food spending was up 3% over the previous year, with mean food at home spending unchanged at an average of $4,121 and mean food away from home spending up 6% at $3,286 for the year period.

For consumer expenditures on fresh fruits and vegetables in 2016-17, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported: 

  • Average spending on fresh fruits for all U.S. households was $295 for the year, down 1% from 2015-16;
  • The range in annual spending on fresh fruit ranged from $169 for households with incomes under $15,000 and $619 for those households with incomes over $200,000; 
  • Average spending on fresh vegetables for all U.S. households was $259 for the year, unchanged from the previous year; and
  • The range in spending on fresh vegetables ranged from $148 per year for households earning less than $15,000 to $494 per year for households earning more than $200,000 per year.

TK: Fresh fruit and vegetable marketers need to continually work at loosening consumer attitudes and wallets in the direction of greater consumption.

Considering that the average consumer expenditure on cell phone service was $1,125 per year and more than $600 per year for pets, there is plenty of work to do to sell fresh produce value.

Submitted by bob on Thu, 09/13/2018 - 15:32

The comparison to cell phone spending to produce is not a fair challenge. I would say look at convenience food and ready to eat meal purchases with that of produce sales and look at trends. Note too, without ad specials, purchasing produce at a traditional supermarkets anymore is the highest cost option on average. Do the produce dollars mention include Farmers Market sales? Farmers Markets and Produce stands generally speaking are your better value for produce as many options include most local items and availability.