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New Health Information Is Reshaping Food Choices

Jayachandran N. Variyam and Elise Golan

Food Review/ National Food Review, 2002, vol. 25, issue 1

Abstract: Over the past half century, consumption patterns of many food commodities have shifted dramatically in the face of changing consumer demand. For example, until the early 1950s, eggs were a staple of the American diet, especially at the breakfast table. Since then, however, egg consumption has steadily dropped. Per capita egg consumption in the United States fell from 390 in 1950 to 233 in 1991, the lowest level ever recorded. Today, annual egg consumption stands at about 250 eggs per person. While other commodities have undergone similar drops in consumption, some have enjoyed booming demand. For example, consumption of whole milk has declined over the past 60 years, while consumption of reduced-fat milk has risen more than threefold. Similarly, the consumption of red meats (beef, veal, pork, and lamb) has declined since the late 1970s, while poultry consumption has shown a continuing upward trend, replacing red meats as the meat of choice in the late 1990s. During this same period, the use of butter and lard has declined, replaced largely by the increased use of salad and cooking oils. What accounts for such shifts in food consumption patterns? While changes in relative prices and income levels are responsible for much of the shift, there is an additional and increasingly important factor at play-the growing scientific evidence linking health to diet. Many consumers have modified their food choices in reaction to the flood of diet and health information coming out of the Nation's labora-tories and research institutions. This article examines how health information is reshaping consumer food preferences and the Nation's food and agricultural sectors.

Keywords: Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Health Economics and Policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2002
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DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.266242

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