DENVER — Data and research marketing agency Midan Marketing released a 2023 Top Trends to Watch report, focusing on key areas for producers and retailers in the food space.

Economic pressures have influenced consumers’ buying patterns, including in the meat case. Some consumers are seeking less expensive cuts of meat, while others are trading up to premium meats at retail in place of eating out. According to Midan’s report, more than half of consumers are comparing prices between retail stores before making a purchase.

“In June, the 12-month inflation rate reached 9.1%, the largest annual increase since 1981,” the report said. “While inflation has calmed in the months following, the US is now in danger of dipping into a recession.”

Midan added that during recessions consumers tend to become loyal to brands that align with their values.

The American Lamb Board (ALB) said it is increasing recipes and cookery education in response to an increase in lamb retail sales.

“There are challenges ahead for the American Lamb industry, yet there are absolutely opportunities,” said ALB Chairman Peter Camino. “But the entire industry will need to make changes to improve our competitiveness and profitability.”

In lieu of inflation and financial pressures, 62% of consumers are choosing large snacks instead of full meals. That number is higher among Generation Z, where 75% are opting for snacks.

Meat snacks have been predominantly beef products in the past, but food manufacturers are becoming more creative, expanding product options for consumers.

Midan’s report notes growing interest in simple ingredients and clean labels but a decline in plant-based meat alternatives. In 2022, some companies have begun reducing plant-based segments, such as JBS who closed its Planterra operations and Maple Leaf Foods who “rightsized” its meat alternative business.

Value for sustainable products has continued to gain popularity among consumers. Midan expects to see the introduction of “carbon zero” and “sustainable” meat products in the retail space in 2023.

The new year will likely come with changes in the digital and technological space. Lately, more pop-ups like Amazon Go Stores and BJ’s Markets have surfaced as well as more tech in retail stores. H-E-B, Kroger and Amazon have carts that act as tills, allowing customers to simply walk out of the store to purchase items rather than pull all their items out at the checkout.

Midan added, “Staying abreast of the latest technologies and seeking out opportunities to evolve business practices will be key in keeping up with consumers, retailers and even other producers.”