The interior of Market on the Hill in Mt. Pulaski, Illinois, on Tuesday, January 25, 2022. photo by Darrell Hoemann/Investigate Midwest

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many sheltered at home, Americans spent less money on food, particularly at, obviously, restaurants. But that trend has sharply reversed.

U.S. consumers are spending much more money on food now, fueled in part by going out to restaurants and bars more frequently, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

In 2022, the share of income spent on food increased about 13% since 2021, the largest annual increase ever recorded, according to the USDA. That came just two years after one of the largest annual decreases — about 8% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Food prices also have increased over the past few years. Prices for meat, in particular, have risen dramatically, which the USDA found financially hurt households during the pandemic.

Type of work:

Explainer A data-driven story that provides background, definition and detail on a specific topic.

Sky Chadde has covered the agriculture industry for Investigate Midwest since 2019 and spent much of 2020 focused on the crisis of COVID-19 in meatpacking plants, which included collecting and analyzing...