Estimating Food Package Costs

Estimated package costs for the current and revised food packages are based, respectively, on the current or revised amounts of each food item and an estimated cost per unit of the food item.

The contents of the current and revised packages can be described in terms of general food categories (e.g., breakfast cereals) or representative food items (e.g., instant oatmeal). In many cases, the price for a general food category included in the package is the weighted average of several food items, estimated using a series of assumptions. The specific assumptions used in the cost analysis are presented in Tables E-1 and E-2 in Appendix ECost Calculations. For example, a weighted average for the cost of breakfast cereals using market share data (ACNielsen Homescan; ACNielsen, 2001) was used to determine the proportion of total cereal products purchased as cooked cereal (10 percent) and as ready-to-eat cereal (90 percent). The weighting done to estimate package costs is the same weighting that was done for the nutritional analyses except for some selected food items;9 details of the weighting are presented in Tables E-1 and E-2. When the package included a cash-value voucher for fresh fruits and vegetables, the value of the voucher was included in the cost of the package. That is, the total package cost for each participant category was calculated as the sum of the costs of component food items plus the cash value of the voucher for fresh produce, as applicable. See Table 5-1 for a comparison of the estimated costs of the current and revised food packages. See Tables E-3A and E-3B in Appendix ECost Calculations for the cost of representative amounts of component food items used in the revised food packages.

Estimating Program Costs for Food

To estimate program costs for the sets of current and revised food packages, the estimated number of participants receiving each package in 2002 was multiplied by the estimated cost of the respective package. The committee assumed that there would be no change in WIC participation rates and no shifts among applicable participant categories. Although some


Baby food fruits and vegetables are examples of selected food items that were calculated differently for the cost and nutrient analyses. Because there were no cost differences between specific fruits and vegetables in most baby food product lines, differentiation of specific items was not applicable in the cost analysis. The nutrient content varies for the different fruits and vegetables available in commercial baby food product lines, so representative choices were used in a weighted average for the nutrient analysis.

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