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Energy Use in the U.S. Food System


  • Canning, Patrick N.
  • Charles, Ainsley
  • Huang, Sonja
  • Polenske, Karen R.
  • Waters, Arnold


Energy is an important input in growing, processing, packaging, distributing, storing, preparing, serving, and disposing of food. Analysis using the two most recent U.S. benchmark input-output accounts and a national energy data system shows that in the United States, use of energy along the food chain for food purchases by or for U.S. households increased between 1997 and 2002 at more than six times the rate of increase in total domestic energy use. This increase in food-related energy flows is over 80 percent of energy flow increases nationwide over the period. The use of more energy-intensive technologies throughout the U.S. food system accounted for half of this increase, with the remainder attributed to population growth and higher real (inflation-adjusted) per capita food expenditures. A projection of food-related energy use based on 2007 total U.S. energy consumption and food expenditure data and the benchmark 2002 input-output accounts suggests that food-related energy use as a share of the national energy budget grew from 14.4 percent in 2002 to an estimated 15.7 percent in 2007.

Suggested Citation

  • Canning, Patrick N. & Charles, Ainsley & Huang, Sonja & Polenske, Karen R. & Waters, Arnold, 2010. "Energy Use in the U.S. Food System," Economic Research Report 59381, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uersrr:59381

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Abbe Hamilton & Stephen B. Balogh & Adrienna Maxwell & Charles A. S. Hall, 2013. "Efficiency of Edible Agriculture in Canada and the U.S. Over the Past Three and Four Decades," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(3), pages 1-30, March.
    2. Cowley, Cortney & Brorsen, B. Wade & Hamilton, Doug, 2014. "Economic Feasibility of Anaerobic Digesters with Swine Operations," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170621, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Lychnos, G. & Davies, P.A., 2012. "Modelling and experimental verification of a solar-powered liquid desiccant cooling system for greenhouse food production in hot climates," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 116-130.
    4. Rehkamp, Sarah & Canning, Patrick, 2016. "The Effects of American Diets on Food System Energy Use," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235896, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    5. Canning, Patrick & Rehkamp, Sarah, 2016. "The Effects of a CO2 Emissions Tax on American Diets," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235928, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Hilario Becerril & Ignacio de los Rios, 2016. "Energy Efficiency Strategies for Ecological Greenhouses: Experiences from Murcia (Spain)," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(11), pages 1-23, October.
    7. Peters, Christian J. & Picardy, Jamie A. & Darrouzet-Nardi, Amelia & Griffin, Timothy S., 2014. "Feed conversions, ration compositions, and land use efficiencies of major livestock products in U.S. agricultural systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 35-43.

    More about this item


    energy use; energy technologies; food expenditures; input-output analysis; population change; structural decomposition analysis; supply chain analysis; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;

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