Consumers can meet the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americas for less than $3 per day, according to a new report.
The report, The Cost of Satisfying Fruit and Vegetable Recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service updated previous estimates of the costs required to meet federal fruit and vegetable recommendations.
“Our analysis shows that individuals on a 2,000-calorie reference diet can purchase a variety of fruits and vegetables satisfying the 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for $2.10 to $2.60 per day,” according to the report. This would purchase a pound and an edible cup-equivalent of 156 commonly consumed fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, according to the USDA. The dietary guidelines recommend consumers on a 2,000 calorie diet consume 2 cup-equivalents of fruit and 2.5 cup equivalents of vegetables each day.
Using retail scanner data from 2013, the USDA estimated average prices for 24 fresh fruits and 40 fresh vegetables, and 92 processed fruits and vegetables.
Retail costs of fruits and vegetables vary over time. However, the authors point out the Consumer Price Index shows that fruit and vegetable prices increased by just 4% between 2008 and 2013. This was less than the 8.2% increase for all consumer goods and services in that period. This suggests the relative cost of fruits and vegetables has decreased for consumers.
The USDA said nine of 63 fruits (14%) cost less than 40 cents per cup-equivalent. Watermelon (21 cents), frozen concentrated apple juice (27 cents), and bananas (29 cents) were the least expensive. Twenty-six fruits (41%) cost between 40 and 80 cents per cup-equivalent, according to the USDA. These include apples, 42 cents, oranges, 58 cents, and grapes, 72 cents. Twenty-seven fruits cost more than 80 cents per cup-equivalent, the USDA said, with fresh raspberries ($2.32) and canned cherries ($2.39) at the top of the price range,
Likewise, the USDA said that 16 of 96 vegetables (17%) cost less than 40 cents per cup-equivalent. Potatoes (18 cents), dried pinto beans (19 cents), and dried lentils (20 cents) were least expensive. 58 vegetables (60%) cost between 40 and 80 cents per cup-equivalent, including onions (41 cents), canned tomatoes (50 cents), and broccoli (72 cents), according to the release. 22 vegetables cost more than 80 cents per cup-equivalent, with frozen artichokes $2.55 and fresh asparagus $2.58 are at the high price range.
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Fresh produce price inflation will be low again in 2015 as it resists California’s drought, the USDA’s Economic Research Service has forecast.
The agency recently reported fresh fruit prices will increase just 2.5% to 3.5% this year, and fresh vegetable prices will rise 2% to 3%.
In May, the USDA said fresh fruit prices rose 1.7% compared with April, but were down 5.7% from May 2014. Fresh vegetable prices were 0.2% lower in May compared with April but up 1% compared with a year ago, according to the USDA.
For all food items, the Consumer Price Index for food was unchanged from April to May but 1.6% above year-ago levels.
In 2014, food price inflation was close to the 20-year historical average of 2.6%, despite the effect of the drought in the Southwest and California.
While the ongoing California drought could have “large and lasting effects on fruit, vegetable, dairy and egg prices,” the USDA at this time projects overall food-at-home inflation of about 1.75% to 2.7%.
If oil prices continue to fall or remain low this year, projected decreases in production and transportation costs may be passed along at the retail level, according to the USDA.
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While overall food prices rose slightly in September, fresh produce prices actually declined.
According the Consumer Price Index issued by The Commerce Department, there was a .4 percent drop in fruit and vegetables prices in September, comapred to August. This resules from a .9 percent drop in frest fruit prices. September overall consumer food prices were .1 percent higher, following a .2 percent increase in August.
The USA average retail price in September for fresh oranges was $1.30 per pound, down from $1.44 per pound in September 2011. The red delicious apple USA average retail price in September was $1.53 per pound, up from $1.51 per pound this time last year. The average retail banana price was 60 cents, down from 61 cents per pound at the same time a year ago.
Fresh vegetable prices increased .8 percent in September compared with August. However the Commerce Department said the fresh vegetable index is still 4.9 percent below year-ago levels.
Fresh potato prices in September were down 1.9 percent from August and 13.6 percent below 2011 levels. Retail prices for lettuce were up 1.1 percent above August but 3.4 percent down from 2011, the report read.
While fresh tomato prices in September were up 2.9 percent from the previous month, it was 4.9 percent lower than a year ago. levels. The average retail price for tomatoes in September was $1.38 per pound, down from $1.50 per pound the same time a year ago, according to the report.
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