Food security, store access, and prices paid: Do the poor pay more for groceries?

Anthony Koschmann, Eastern Michigan University
Brian Wansink, Cornell University


This research examines food security using actual prices paid by a large panel of U.S. households of consumer-packed goods across seven store formats (e.g., grocery stores, drug stores, and convenience stores). Adjusted for household size and income, the percent of budget spent by three affluency groups (lower, moderate, and higher) found similar spending ratios at the two largest store formats, grocery and mass discounters. Low-income households paid significantly less overall and paid significantly lower prices in three of the four most shopped store formats. The findings suggest poorer consumers are more food secure than previously believed.