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AmberWaves February 2003 > Indicators > Behind the Data

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Estimating Per Capita Domestic Use of Head Lettuce

  • Domestic use of head (largely iceberg) lettuce is a proxy measure for actual consumption. Because annual consumption surveys are prohibitively expensive, indirect estimates of consumption are calculated to capture basic national consumption patterns and trends.

  • Per capita (per person) domestic use does not directly measure what individuals eat, but is an estimate of the amount of raw commodity supplied to each person, based on the best available data.

  • Analysts rely on domestic use data for such tasks as monitoring the Nation's food supply, studying the nutritional well-being of Americans, interpreting consumption trends among commodity groups, and conducting food demand research.

  • Head lettuce includes iceberg, butterhead, Boston, and Bibb lettuces.

  • Calculating per capita domestic use for fresh-market vegetables such as head lettuce is straightforward. U.S. imports are added to domestic production to arrive at total supply. U.S. exports are subtracted to yield net domestic use. Domestic use is divided by the July 1 estimate of U.S. population (including military) to arrive at the per-person proxy for consumption.

  • Head lettuce accounts for 72 percent of all lettuce produced in the United States. In 2001, U.S. consumers had at their disposal 6.9 billion pounds (24.2 pounds per capita) of head lettuce. This included head lettuce sold in retail stores and various food service outlets such as restaurants and school lunches. It also included various bagged fresh-cut products.

  • On average, more than 99 percent of all head lettuce consumed in the United States comes from domestic sources.

U.S. fresh-market head lettuce—Supply, use, and price

U.S. lettuce, all: Per capita use

Item

Units

2000

2001

2002f

Harvested area1

Acres

184,900

193,600

194,500

Per-acre yield1

Cwt

377

375

370

Production1

Mil lbs

6,963

7,251

7,200

Imports2

Mil lbs

32

46

98

Total supply

Mil lbs

6,995

7,297

7,298

Exports2

Mil lbs

374

379

405

Domestic use

Mil lbs

6,621

6,918

6,893

U.S. population3

Thou.

282,489

286,362

290,288

Per capita use

Pounds

23.4

24.2

23.7

Season-average price:

Current dollars1

$/cwt

17.40

17.60

19.00

Constant 1996 dollars4

$/cwt

16.28

16.08

17.12

Share of supply exported

Percent

5.3

5.2

5.5

Share of use imported

Percent

0.5

0.7

1.4

f=ERS forecast.
1Source is NASS, USDA. 2Source is Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce. 3July 1 estimate, including military population overseas. Source: Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce. 4Deflated by the GDP implicit price deflator, 1996=100.

 

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