Share of Income Spent on Food Dropped 10% In 2020, A Historic Low


The share of U.S. consumers’ disposable income spent on food decreased 10.1 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The share declined to 8.6 percent, the lowest share in the past 60 years, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The share of disposable income spent on food in the United States was relatively steady over the last 20 years, decreasing from 9.95 percent in 2000 to 9.58 percent in 2019.

Consumers spent 1.4 percent more of their incomes for food at home from 2019 to 2020, while they spent 22.2 percent less of their incomes on food at restaurants. Changes in the shares of income spent on food in 2020 resulted, in part, from pandemic-related closures and restrictions at food-away-from-home establishments, as well as from the largest annual disposable income increase in 20 years.

The increase was driven by additional Government assistance to individuals in 2020, including stimulus payments to households and increased unemployment insurance benefits.