The Food Industry

Farming and food wholesaling are major businesses in the United States. In 2004, U.S. farmers harvested 279,253 bushels of barley (mostly for beer brewing), nearly 12 million bushels of corn, more than 115,000 bushels of oats, and more than 2 million bushels of wheat. In 2003, U.S. farmers produced more than 21.5 million hundred-weights of strawberries, nearly 18 million hundred-weights of dry beans, and nearly 20 million hundred-weights of broccoli (USDA, 2003). Food wholesaling accounted for $589 billion of sales in 1997. Dairy, poultry, meat, and fresh fruit and vegetable sales accounted for nearly three-fourths of this business; packaged frozen foods accounted for the rest (USDA, 2005).

The grocery and restaurant sectors are also major businesses in the United States. The National Restaurant Association (2005) estimates that Americans will spend $476 billion eating in 900,000 restaurants throughout the United States in 2005; U.S. restaurant sales will represent 46.7% of total food expenditures in this country. The Food Marketing Institute (2005), an industry trade group representing grocery stores, reported that Americans spent more than $457 billion in supermarkets in 2004.

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