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Rethinking household demand for food diversity

Andrea M. Leschewski (Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)
Dave D. Weatherspoon (Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)
Annemarie Kuhns (Food Markets Branch, Food Economics Division, Economic Research Service, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to develop a group-based food diversity index, which represents diversity in household expenditures across food subgroups. The index is compared to a product code-based index and applied to reassess determinants of food diversity demand.


A group-based food diversity index is developed by adapting the US Healthy Food Diversity Index. Using Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey data on 4,341 US households, correlation coefficients, descriptive statistics and linear regressions are estimated to compare and reassess the determinants of group and product code-based food diversity demand.


Results show that the group and product code indices capture different forms of food diversity. The indices are only moderately correlated and have varying means and skewness. Education, gender, age, household size, race, SNAP and food expenditures are found to significantly affect food diversity. However, the magnitude and direction of the effects vary between group and product code indices. Given these differences, it is essential that studies select a diversity index that corresponds to their objective. Results suggest that group-based indices are appropriate for informing food and nutrition policy, while product code-based indices are ideal for guiding food industry management’s decision making.


A group-based food diversity index representative of household expenditures across food subgroups is developed.



Leschewski, A.M., Weatherspoon, D.D. and Kuhns, A. (2017), "Rethinking household demand for food diversity", British Food Journal, Vol. 119 No. 6, pp. 1176-1188.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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