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Consumers spend more on food away from home in 2021

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Consumers in the United States returned to pre-pandemic trends, purchasing more food away from home than food purchases intended for consumption at home. USDA’s Economic Research Service released the data Monday, which shows food away from home spending increased 21.1 percent in 2021 from the previous year. Food at home spending also increased, up four percent in 2021. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, real total food expenditures fell 6.6 percent from 2019.

U.S. consumers’ food-spending patterns changed as efforts were made to limit the spread of COVID-19, which included stay-at-home orders. Food away from home spending decreased by 15.8 percent in 2020, while food at home spending increased by 3.9 percent. In 2021, real total food expenditures increased 12.2 percent from 2020. USDA describes food at home as food intended for off-premise consumption from retailers, and food away from home as food consumed at outlets such as restaurants or cafeterias.