The agency plans to use the data to make sure everyone in the country has affordable access to healthy food.
The Agriculture Department wants access to comprehensive data across all America’s food retailers—with specific details down to the individual store level—to assess issues around the viability and availability of the nation’s nutritional resources and inform the agency’s future research efforts.
“In recent years, concerns about the availability of healthful, affordable foods by households in low-income neighborhoods has resulted in the need for detailed information on the kinds and locations of retail food stores in relation to such vulnerable populations,” agency officials said in a recently published sources sought solicitation. “More broadly, detailed store-level data and information are needed to assess the economic performance of the food retailing industry and its ability to serve the changing needs of consumers.”
For deliverables, the agency wants data and an all-inclusive list of supermarkets that span the country, including those that have annual total sales of $2 million or more, “suprettes” or stores that make between $1 and $2 million in annual sales, mass merchandisers, wholesale clubs, drug stores and convenient stores that are not associated with gas stations.
More specifically, for each defined location, Agriculture wants detailed information on a variety of elements including the stores’ names and addresses, geographic identifiers, annual sales, size of selling areas, information on the items that they sell and market area identifiers. The agency is also particularly interested in specific “entry and exit” insights on the new stores that are entering the market for the first time, as well as the stores that have shut their doors and closed for good. Changes of ownership are also of interest to Agriculture.
Vendors will also be expected to provide information on their data sources, collection procedures, estimation methods, data dictionary, data quality and limitations and other relevant components.
Agency insiders are especially interested in using the data to study how firm characteristics and entry and exit influence households’ shopping preferences.
“[Agriculture] will use the data for projects that support economic and policy research,” the solicitation also notes. “The research projects are often undertaken in collaboration with external experts, including but not limited to economists, researchers, and survey and data methodologists at non-governmental organizations.”
Once the agency reviews the data and confirms that it meets privacy and confidentiality requirements, it plans to apply and disseminate the aggregate findings across a wide variety of publicly-available media sources.
Agriculture wants the information submitted in Office Excel 2007 format, or as a text file, for this specific data documentation around food retailers for the month of June 2019 by Sept. 30 of this year, and the same insights on June 2020 by July 1 of next year.