Using Scanner Data for Food Policy Research - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128145074

Using Scanner Data for Food Policy Research

1st Edition

An Economist's Guide

Authors: Mary Muth Chen Zhen Shawn Karns Abigail Okrent
Paperback ISBN: 9780128145074
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 1st October 2019
Page Count: 300
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Using Scanner Data for Food Policy Research: An Economist's Guide is a practitioners’ guide to using and interpreting scanner data obtained from stores and households in policy research. It provides practical advice for using the data, interpreting results, and addressing key methodological issues, such as aggregation and constructing price indices. In addition, the book demonstrates some of the key econometric and statistical applications of the data, including estimating demand systems for policy simulation, tracking changes in purchases and nutrients over time, conducting cost-benefit analysis of food policies, and analyzing the effects of food access on food choices.

Key Features

  • Explains how scanner data can be adapted to address questions of interest in various stripes of food policy research
  • Demonstrates how to use scanner data using tools from econometric and statistical analyses
  • Resolves key methodological issues related to using the data to facilitate more rapid analyses
  • Presents the key applications of the data for food policy research, including demand system estimation, surveillance of food purchases and health, cost-benefit analysis, and food access research
  • Provides an overview of published literature as background for designing new studies


Early career researchers, typically at 1st year PhD level, particularly those working with scanner data in agricultural and food economics, nutrition, and public health contexts. Some policymakers and analysts, particularly from NGOs

Table of Contents

1. What is Scanner Data and why is it Useful for Food Policy Research?
2. Sources of Scanner Data across the Globe
3. Using Scanner Data with other Data resources for Food Policy Research
4. Methodological Approaches in Using Scanner Data
5. Insights from past food policy research using Scanner Data
6. Application: Demand System Estimation for use in Policy Simulation
7. Application: Tracking changes in Calories and Nutrients purchased over time
8. Application: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Food Policies
9. Application: Analysis of effects of Food Access on Healthy Food Choices


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2020
Academic Press
Paperback ISBN:

About the Author

Mary Muth

Mary K. Muth, PhD, is director of RTI International's Food, Nutrition, and Obesity Policy Research Program. Muth conducts research studies for government agencies and other organizations to analyse the impacts of policies, regulations, and other initiatives affecting food and agriculture. She specializes in the areas of nutrition, food security, food waste, food pricing, food labelling, food reformulation, and food safety. She has extensive experience analysing food availability, purchase, and consumption data and developing economic models of the impacts of food policy. Dr. Muth is also an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University.

Affiliations and Expertise

Director, RTI International's Food, Nutrition, and Obesity Policy Research Program and Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, North Carolina State University

Chen Zhen

Chen Zhen, PhD, is an associate professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia. He holds the UGA Athletic Association professorship in Food Choice, Obesity, and Health Economics. He develops advanced and practical statistical models of consumer food purchase behaviour using scanner data to study policy issues such as sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, shelf nutrition labelling, food costs, and food assistance programs.

Affiliations and Expertise

Associate Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Georgia

Shawn Karns

Shawn Karns is a Senior Public Health Analyst in RTI International's Food, Nutrition, and Obesity Policy Research Program where she has developed extensive experience analysing store-based and household-based scanner data for food policy research. She has served as data manager and senior analyst on several studies using scanner data, including to analyse the effects of hypothetical restrictions on foods purchased using SNAP benefits; to estimate the costs of labelling and reformulating foods; and to assess the statistical properties of IRI store-based scanner data, household-based scanner data, and other product characteristics data.

Affiliations and Expertise

Senior Public Health Analyst, RTI International's Food, Nutrition, and Obesity Policy Research Program

Abigail Okrent

Abigail Okrent, PhD, is a research economist at the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service where she investigates the role of food and farm policies on food choices and diet quality. Her current research uses household and retail scanner data to analyse determinants of food choice and its implications for health outcomes.

Affiliations and Expertise

Research Economist, US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service

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