Americans Spending Smaller Percent of Income on Food

AMERICANS are spending a smaller portion of their income on food - 11.8 percent - than they did in preceding years, a government report says. The figure, based on 1990 expenditures, was down 0.1 percent from the preceding year and represented the latest in a long trend of decreases. In 1960, Americans spent 17.6 percent of their disposable income on food.

"This percentage has declined over the years because personal income has risen more than food expenditures," the Agriculture Department said in its annual "Food Costs" review.

Food prices were forecast to increase 2 percent to 5 percent this year. If correct, it would be the first time since 1985 that food prices increased less than the overall inflation rate.

Since 1980, the amount of money spent on food away from home has doubled to $177 billion, while spending for food eaten at home increased 62 percent, according to the "Food Costs" review.

In a separate report, the Labor Department found that the average household spends 14.7 percent of its net income on food.

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