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Where once consumers cooked most of their meals at home, they’re now buying just as many at cafes and restaurants. And while shoppers were once content to husk their own corn and slice their own apples, they now buy those foods — and thousands of others — pre-husked, pre-sliced and otherwise processed.
Economists say those trends, coupled with low commodity prices, caused farmers’ share of consumer food spending to fall 1.2 cents in 2016, reaching the lowest point, adjusted for inflation, since USDA began the measure in 1993. (It's the latest year for which data is available).
While falling share doesn’t hurt farmers, necessarily, it does expose the long-term, macro trends that shape the supply and cost of food.
“This measure basically asks, ‘what value was added at each stage of the process?'” said Patrick Canning, a senior economist at USDA. “Long-term, we definitely see the farm share trending down over several decades.”
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