Walmart’s Domination of the U.S. Grocery Market
One wouldn’t expect the grocery department of a big box retailer to spark debate, but Walmart’s high market concentration in the grocery space is doing just that.
By now, Walmart’s rise to the top of the retail pyramid is well documented. The Supercenters that dot the American landscape have had a dramatic ripple effect on surrounding communities, often resulting in decreased competition and reduced selection for consumers. Today, in some communities, Walmart takes in a whopping $19 for every $20 spent on groceries.
Today’s map, based on a report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, looks at which places in America are most reliant on Walmart to put food on the table.
The Weight of Walmart
Walmart has an unprecedented amount of control over the food system, now capturing a quarter of every single dollar spent on groceries in the United States.
Walmart isn’t just a major player — in some cases it’s become the only game in town. In a few of the communities listed in the report, Walmart commands a 90% market share and higher.
Here’s a breakdown of the top 20 towns dominated by Walmart in America:
|Rank||Metro/Region||Population||Walmart Market Share|
|#2||Portales, New Mexico||19,730||95%|
|#4||Deming, New Mexico||24,699||90%|
|#6||North Platte, Nebraska||37,043||87%|
|#7||Wahpeton, N.D.– Minnesota||23,036||84%|
|#10||Bismarck, North Dakota||135,654||83%|
|#11||Helena-West Helena, Arkansas||20,176||80%|
|#17||Huron, South Dakota||18,082||75%|
While it’s more likely for a small town to become dominated by a single grocer, Walmart’s clout isn’t exclusive to rural America. Even in Springfield, Missouri — with a regional population of half a million people — the big box retailer still boasts a sizable market share of 66%.
Super Market Concentration
Under guidelines established by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, markets in which one corporation captures more than 50% of revenue are defined as “highly concentrated.” Walmart’s market share meets or exceeds this measure in 43 metropolitan areas and 160 smaller markets around the United States.
In some states, this trend is even more pronounced. In Oklahoma, for example, 86% of the state’s population lives in a region where Walmart has the majority market share in the grocery sector. In Arkansas — the home state of the megaretailer — half the population lives in this “highly concentrated” grocery market situation.
This degree of market concentration means that a retailer could cut certain products or manipulate prices without fear of losing customers. Worse yet, a company could close up shop and leave thousands of people without adequate grocery access.
An Interesting Caveat
There is a flip side to this story, however.
Walmart has shown a willingness to expand their grocery business to areas that were considered “food deserts” (i.e. low-income areas without easy access to a supermarket).
In a 2011 initiative, the retailer committed to open or expand 1,500 supermarkets across America to help give more people access to fresh food.
With the ground game clearly won, America’s largest grocer is now focused on dominating the next frontier of the grocery market – delivery. Stiff competition from companies like Amazon and Instacart will keep Walmart’s online market concentration in check for the time being.
Made in America: Goods Exports by State
The U.S. exported $1.8 trillion worth of goods in 2021. This infographic looks at where that trade activity took place across the nation.
Made in America: Goods Exports by State
After China, the U.S. is the next largest exporter of goods in the world, shipping out $1.8 trillion worth of goods in 2021—an increase of 23% over the previous year.
Of course, that massive number doesn’t tell the whole story. The U.S. economy is multifaceted, with varying levels of trade activity taking place all across the nation.
Using the latest data on international trade from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, we’ve visualized the value of America’s goods exports by state.
Top 10 Exporter States
Here are the top 10 American states that exported the highest dollar value worth of goods during 2021. Combined, these export-leading states represent 59.4% of the nation’s total exports.
|Rank||State||Total Exports Value||% share|
|#3||New York||$84.9 billion||4.8%|
|#10||New Jersey||$49.5 billion||2.8%|
|Top 10 States||$1.04 trillion||59.4%|
Texas has been the top exporting state in the U.S. for an incredible 20 years in a row.
Last year, Texas exported $375 billion worth of goods, which is more than California ($175 billion), New York ($85 billion), and Louisiana ($77 billion) combined. The state’s largest manufacturing export category is petroleum and coal products, but it’s also important to mention that Texas led the nation in tech exports for the ninth straight year.
California was the second highest exporter of goods in 2021 with a total value of $175 billion, an increase of 12% from the previous year. The state’s main export by value was computer and electronic product manufacturing, representing 17.8% of the total U.S. exports of that industry. California was also second among all states in exports of machinery manufacturing, accounting for 13.9% of the U.S. total.
What Type of Goods are Exported?
Here is a breakdown of the biggest U.S. export categories by value in 2021.
|Rank||Product Group||Annual Export Value (2021)||Share of Total Exports|
|1||Mineral fuels including oil||$239.8 billion||13.7%|
|2||Machinery including computers||$209.3 billion||11.9%|
|3||Electrical machinery, equipment||$185.4 billion||10.6%|
|5||Optical, technical, medical apparatus||$91.7 billion||5.2%|
|6||Aircraft, spacecraft||$89.1 billion||5.1%|
|7||Gems, precious metals||$82.3 billion||4.7%|
|9||Plastics, plastic articles||$74.3 billion||4.2%|
|10||Organic chemicals||$42.9 billion||2.4%|
These top 10 export categories alone represent almost 70% of America’s total exports.
The biggest grower among this list is mineral fuels, up by 59% from last year. Pharmaceuticals saw the second biggest one-year increase (45%).
Top 10 U.S. Exports by Country of Destination
So who is buying “Made in America” products?
Unsurprisingly, neighboring countries Canada (17.5%) and Mexico (15.8%) are the two biggest buyers of American goods. Together, they purchase one-third of American exports.
|Rank||Destination Country||Share of U.S. Goods Exports|
|5||🇰🇷 South Korea||3.7%|
|7||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||3.5%|
Three Asian countries round out the top five list: China (8.6%), Japan (4.3%), and South Korea (3.7%). Together, the top five countries account for around half of all goods exports.
Visualizing Global Income Distribution Over 200 Years
How has global income distribution changed over history? Below, we show three distinct periods since the Industrial Revolution.
Visualizing Global Income Distribution Over 200 Years
Has the world become more unequal?
With COVID-19 disrupting societies and lower-income countries in particular, social and economic progress made over the last decade is in danger of being reversed. And with rising living costs and inflation across much of the world, experts warn that global income inequality has been exacerbated.
But the good news is that absolute incomes across many poorer countries have significantly risen over the last century of time. And though work remains, poverty levels have fallen dramatically in spite of stark inequality.
To analyze historical trends in global income distribution, this infographic from Our World in Data looks at three periods over the last two centuries. It uses economic data from 1800, 1975, and 2015 compiled by Hans and Ola Rosling.
For global income estimates, data was gathered by country across three key variables:
- GDP per capita
- Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality by statistical distribution
Daily incomes were measured in a hypothetical “international-$” currency, equal to what a U.S. dollar would buy in America in 2011, to allow for comparable incomes across time periods and countries.
Historical Patterns in Global Income Distribution
In 1800, over 80% of the world lived in what we consider extreme poverty today.
At the time, only a small number of countries—predominantly Western European countries, Australia, Canada and the U.S.—saw meaningful economic growth. In fact, research suggests that between 1 CE and 1800 CE the majority of places around the world saw miniscule economic growth (only 0.04% annually).
By 1975, global income distribution became bimodal. Most citizens in developing countries lived below the poverty line, while most in developed countries lived above it, with incomes nearly 10 times higher on average. Post-WWII growth was unusually rapid across developed countries.
Fast forward just 40 years to 2015 and world income distribution changed again. As incomes rose faster in poorer countries than developed ones, many people were lifted out of poverty. Between 1975 and 2015, poverty declined faster than at any other time. Still, steep inequality persisted.
A Tale of Different Economic Outputs
Even as global income distribution has started to even out, economic output has trended in the opposite direction.
As the above interactive chart shows, GDP per capita was much more equal across regions in the 19th century, when it sat around $1,100 per capita on a global basis. Despite many people living below the poverty line during these times, the world also had less wealth to go around.
Today, the global average GDP per capita sits at close to $15,212 or about 14 times higher, but it is not as equally distributed.
At the highest end of the spectrum are Western and European countries. Strong economic growth, greater industrial output, and sufficient legal institutions have helped underpin higher GDP per capita numbers. Meanwhile, countries with the lowest average incomes have not seen the same levels of growth.
This highlights that poverty, and economic prosperity, is heavily influenced by where one lives.
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