CHICAGO — Having wrapped up the first half of 2024, Midan Marketing released its midyear trends update, in which the company explores how its consumer trends predictions from December have shaped out thus far.

Price remains top of mind for consumers as inflation is still taking a toll on the market. According to the May 2024 Consumer Price Index, consumer prices jumped 3.3% compared to a year ago on an adjusted basis. Meanwhile, food prices have increased 2.1%.

“Although these stats indicate that inflation is technically easing, it’s hard to reconcile that with ongoing sticker shock at the grocery store; shoppers continue to feel pressure on their pocketbooks,” Midan Marketing said.

Inflation is impacting more than retailers’ prices; rising prices at quick-service restaurants is making “drive-through dinner” a luxury to some, the report said. In the past 10 years, prices at quick-service restaurants have jumped by an average of 60%. According to a survey from Lending Tree, three in four consumers typically eat fast-food at least once a week, but 62% say they are eating less due to the increase in prices.

As consumers begin to gravitate toward more at-home meals, retailers and processors can market the value of their products to catch consumers’ attention. Midan’s research reveals that decision-making at the meat case involves more than just price. Midan found that while price is at the top of the value equation for beef, other attributes like quality, brand, claims, nutrition and sustainability also play a key role.

One claim that is quickly building momentum is “Certified Regenerative Organic,” which saw a 39% jump in unit growth year-over-year by the end of 2023. However, sales of some other sustainability-related certifications have begun to slow, Midan noted. Sales of organic products are down 4%.

Not only is popularity of certain claims changing but so is consumers’ understanding of sustainability-based claims.

In a 2021 study, Midan found that consumers connected sustainably raised meat primarily to animal welfare and only secondarily to environmental issues. However, Midan’s research from 2023 revealed a shift in understanding, as now nearly one-third of meat consumers said they associate sustainable meat and poultry primarily with environmental issues, such as less impact, reduced resources and greater consciousness. Consumers still referenced welfare issues, but they are no longer at the top of the list.

Midan’s Meat Consumer Segmentation 3.0 research discovered that Sustainability Enthusiasts represent a group of consumers who prioritize sustainability when purchasing meat and are willing to pay more for products that support sustainability. Only 17% of consumers surveyed at the time fell into that group.