Josh Sosland
Among the residual hangover effects of the severe recession that struck the United States in 2007-09, a high level of food insecurity has been among the most persistent and dispiriting. From a pre-recession level of 11.1%, food insecurity (the percentage of households experiencing limited access to food because of money at some point in the year) peaked at 14.9% in 2011, two years after the recession ended. Even after years of robust job growth, food insecurity held at 14% in 2014.

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week indicated a long-awaited break in this figure, to 12.7%, finally occurred in 2015. While still above pre-recession levels, food insecurity last year appeared firmly headed in the right direction. The 9.3% reduction in food insecurity was the largest one-year drop in memory.

For the grain-based foods industry, the improved trend is welcome news for a number of reasons, including the positive role the industry has played for decades in helping assure hunger across the United States is minimized. Additionally, the period of elevated food insecurity (2007-14) corresponds with a time of unusual sluggishness in food sales volumes. It is hoped that the improved food security trend among some of our society’s most vulnerable individuals will augur improvement overall in sales trends for grain-based foods.