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Grocery Store Winners and Losers, 2006-2016

Monday, July 2, 2018

By Cheryl Russell, American Consumers Newsletter

When Americans shopped for groceries a decade ago, beef was number-one on the shopping list – the item on which the average household spent the most money. Today, the number-one expenditure is fresh fruit, followed by fresh vegetables, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Beef is now in third place.

Between 2006 and 2016, average household spending on beef--which includes everything from ground beef to steak and roasts--fell 13% after adjusting for inflation. In contrast, average household spending on fresh fruit climbed 24%, and fresh vegetable spending was up 10%. Here are some of grocery's biggest winners and losers during the decade...

Selected items with double-digit GAIN in average household spending, 2006-2016 (in 2016 dollars)

Coffee: 61%
Rice: 45%
Spices: 43%
Cream: 33%
Nuts: 30%
Butter: 29%
Eggs: 28%
Fruit, fresh: 24%
Bacon: 19%
Vegetables, fresh: 10%

Selected items with double-digit LOSS in average household spending, 2006-2016 (in 2016 dollars)

Fish: -10%
Beef: -13%
Carbonated drinks: -15%
Fruit juice, bottled: -16%
Ice cream: -20%
Cereal: -20%
Milk, fresh: -23%
Margarine: -30%
Fruit juice, fresh: -42%
Baby food: -42%

Of course, these lists cannot determine whether our diet has improved over the decade. Although Americans are spending less on carbonated drinks and ice cream at the grocery store, they may be gorging on these items at restaurants instead.

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