# Weekly Food Expenditures

by on July 15, 2008

Yesterday my sister forwarded me a link to a web page that I found really fascinating. The page shows photos of families from eight different countries (Germany, U. S., Italy, Mexico, Poland, Egypt, Ecuador, India), the food they purchased for a week, and what each family spent on food for a week. The German family is pictured above. The article is interesting in a number of different ways. Please click through to it.

It’s visually engaging in a National Geographic sort of way—the colors, dress, different foods, etc. The sizes of the families represented are quite interesting and, if typical, express visually the differences in birthrate and customs among the differing countries. The contents of the diet are quite different. I won’t apologize for my countrymen (as the Indian author felt moved to do about the American family). I wouldn’t be surprised if a typical American family had just that lousy a diet.

I was also intrigued at how much bread was in the Italian family’s diet. It’s obviously a major component of their diet. That was typical of the Western world until quite recently. The “staff of life”, indeed.

There’s other information in the article, too. Just for fun, let’s assume that the article correctly represents the weekly expenditures for the various families. Here are countries and expenditures in tabular form.

 Country Weekly Expenditure Per Capita GDP Percent Germany \$500.07 \$34,200 1.46% U. S. \$341.98 \$45,800 .75% Italy \$260.11 \$30,400 .85% Mexico \$189.09 \$12,800 1.48% Poland \$151.27 \$16,300 .92% Egypt \$68.53 \$5,500 1.25% Ecuador \$31.55 \$7,200 .44% India \$39.27 \$2,700 1.45%

Source for per capita GDP: CIA World Fact Book

I’ve added the per capita (average) GDP for each country and calculated the percentage that each family’s food expenses represents of it. Note how much more of their income the German, Mexican, Egyptian, and Indian families are spending on food compared, especially, to the U. S., Italian, and Ecuadoran families. No wonder the Ecuadoran family is smiling.

Take note of that difference when you read about food riots in Egypt or German or Indian newspaper articles about the rising price of food.

PD Shaw July 15, 2008 at 8:08 am

Very interesting. I wish there was a list so I could figure out what everything is.

One thing that stands out to me are the countries with lots of beverages (Germany, U.S. and Mexico) In particular, the Germans have a lot of wine, beer and I believe juice and/or milk. (\$) And how much coco-cola is being consumed by the Mexican family? Is that 24 liters?

FabioC. July 15, 2008 at 8:25 am

The Italian family is from Sicily in the deep south – which is not only a poorer, on average, area but also one with a food culture that stands somewhat apart. I think a family from the north would use more meat and pasta/stuffed pasta.

In any case, we still eat a lot of bread, even if the rising prices have made many go back to home baking – with the help of bread machines.

Dave Schuler July 15, 2008 at 8:28 am

PD Shaw:

Yes, I noticed the Coke (and other U. S. brands) in the Mexican family’s purchases, too.

FabioC:

Thanks. My wife’s mother’s father is from Sicily so I have a little notion about its location and characteristics. Or at least what they were 100 years ago.

James Joyner July 16, 2008 at 9:52 am

It’s very interesting and the photos are classic. I wonder, though, if the dollar amounts are average or quite literally just what the pictured family spent in that particular week?

PD Shaw July 16, 2008 at 10:29 am

I also wonder how “eating out” has been taken into consideration. Americans eat out a lot (particularly lunch during the work/school week). The Americans are the only ones pictures with food prepared away from home, but it could have been taken home.

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