The Coastal Packet: Mainers pay more for food

Monday, January 25

Mainers pay more for food

Press Herald - [The Bureau of Economic Analysis] recently reported that Mainers spent $3,736 per capita in 2014 on groceries. Vermonters spent $4,104 per person and Alaskans spent $3,924, while New Hampshire followed just behind Maine at $3,635. The national average is $2,780.

“We’re at the end of the food pipeline,” said [Mark] Lapping, a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Southern Maine who has studied food issues in the state and region.

With Mainers paying 34 percent more than the national average on groceries, the higher spending probably reflects their food choices as well, he said. For instance, Mainers might opt for fish instead of beef, and a pound of haddock is more expensive than ground chuck.

Between 2007 and 2012, the number of food stores in Maine grew by 18 percent, compared to an increase nationally of about 1 percent.

Lapping said Mainers’ growing reputation as foodies – witness all those restaurants in Portland that have sprung up in the last two decades – might also be playing a role.

“We now have more than 20 artisanal cheese makers in the state,” Lapping said.

“Our ace in the hole may well be our plentiful water supply,” he said.

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