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WIC Food Packages: Time for a Change
Data for the prices of each of the foods were identified from sources considered nationally representative of the food items likely to be selected and available to the participants. No single best source was available for all of the food prices. The committee used the sources indicated for the following types of foods:
Infant Formula—Retail prices for infant formula were obtained from a report released by the Economic Research Service (ERS) (Oliveira et al., 2001) that calculated the average market price of infant formula using 2000 retail-scanner data (scanner-based retail sales tracking data from Information Resources, Inc. [IRI, Chicago, IL], InfoScan database). The data were designed to be representative of the United States using 64 market areas. The ERS report included price data on all types of infant formula (i.e., standard6 and specialized).7 The committee used only data on prices for standard milk-based formulas for this analysis.
Fruits and Vegetables—Estimated prices for fruits and vegetables, including prices by form of the produce (i.e., fresh, canned, frozen, dried), were obtained from Reed et al. (2004) and a recently released data set (ERS, 2004b) on fruit and vegetable purchases and prices. These prices are based on ACNielsen Homescan 1999 price data (ACNielsen, 2001).
Eggs—The source of the egg price was monthly average price data for 2002, Grade A, large eggs from the Consumer Price Index—Average Price Data of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2004a).8
Other Groceries—Prices for groceries (including milk and milk products) were calculated based on 2001 ACNielsen Homescan purchase-price data (ACNielsen, 2001). Specifications for each food item reflected the allowed product characteristics for the current food packages obtained from the FNS website (FNS, 2004d, 2004e) or for the revised food packages as described in Table 4-3 (Proposed Specifications for Foods, Chapter 4—Revised Food Packages). The pricing data used also reflect container sizes allowed, if known for the current packages or if applicable for the
The term standard infant formula refers to both milk-based and soy-based infant formulas, excluding specialized infant formula (i.e., formula for infants or children with special dietary needs).
Related items in the infant formula category of the InfoScan database that were not actually infant formula (e.g., Pedialyte and other electrolyte maintenance solutions) were excluded from the data for the ERS analysis.
Egg price data were drawn from BLS (2004a) because of ease in identifying a representative food item in this category and the uniform product specification.