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Eating out or at home, food is a bargain for US consumers
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Consumers in the US and Oregon are generally spending less of their income on food than ever before. At the same time, spending on meals away from home is at an all time high:
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Both trends show up in recent national statistics that indicate US consumers are enjoying the cheapest, most abundant food supply on the planet. Oregon Department of Agriculture analyst Brent Searle says Americans are spending, on average, just 9.4 percent of their disposable income on food: 
SEARLE: "That's the lowest in history of any country in the world at any time. So we are pretty fortunate here in the United States to have an efficient food system that delivers available food, and that's all kinds of food." :12
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When today's baby boomers were kids, US consumers were spending more than 17 percent of their income on food. Meanwhile, it appears more people are choosing to eat out more often: 
SEARLE: "Eating out of the home, away from home expenditures, is at an all-time high. But that trend is slowing somewhat." :09
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Of the more than trillion dollars Americans spend on food, nearly 48 percent now goes to purchase food away from home, getting ever so close to matching the percentage of the food dollar spent on meals consumed at home. But no matter where food expenditures take place, the relatively low percentage of income spent by the US consumer on food remains the envy of the world. In Salem, I'm Bruce Pokarney.

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SEARLE says there are some interesting trends on where people are buying their food to consume at home: 
"For two-thirds of the population, they go to the grocery store or local supermarket. But what are called big box stores or warehouse clubs, those kinds of things- Costco is one of the most familiar- people are increasingly going there, those mass merchandisers. Almost 17 percent of food dollars are spent at those locations now." :20
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SEARLE says some of what the US enjoys with regard to abundant, cheap food is spilling over into other countries where economic growth is taking place- and that's good news for farmers and ranchers in Oregon and the US: 
"Generally, across the world, incomes are increasing, population is increasing, demand for food is increasing. That means producers have a growing market there." :13
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