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February 9, 2023 Issues & Insights

Beef industry takeaways from the 2023 Nourish Trend Report

This is the first article in a two-part series. The second part will be posted on ABP Daily mid-February.

There’s plenty of consumer trends for the beef industry to keep an eye on, according to Nourish Food Marketing’s latest trend report.

This year’s trends were presented by Nourish President Jo-Ann McArthur in a webinar hosted by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity in January. Here, we’ve highlighted the trends with the greatest implications for the Canadian beef industry.

Blended meat is making a comeback.

Whether it’s due to rising food prices or a desire to eat less meat, the report found that the concept of “trading down” with protein is becoming more common. The practice of making meat stretch further isn’t new, however, having been used by many families during the Great Depression and Second World War.

“They used to mix oats or mushrooms with the ground beef as a way of expanding that and stretching the budget. And certainly in high inflation times, we’re going to see more of that,” said McArthur.

Food companies, including major meat processors, are also starting to create blended meat products that use a plant-based protein as a percentage of the mixture. McArthur anticipates more products like this becoming available in the future.

Local food will be even more sought-after.

The Covid-19 pandemic underscored the instability of global supply chains and encouraged more consumers to purchase locally produced food. This desire to buy local is expected to continue, the report found, as consumers consider locally produced items to be fresher and higher quality.

“We’ve all seen empty shelves, so food security and more localized production is coming back into play, and this concept of eating more in season is also on the rise,” said McArthur.

She advises food system stakeholders to clearly promote when food is locally grown or raised, as it’s not always obvious to the end user. “Don’t assume that consumers know it’s local. I’ve seen lots of research that says consumers don’t know understand that their eggs (and) their milk are local, so call that out.”

Reducing food waste is a major concern for consumers.

According to Nourish’s research, self-contained food systems will become more common in the future, and the possibilities for reducing food waste with these systems appeals to environmentally conscious consumers. This is an opportunity for the beef industry to communicate how it’s already using food waste and byproducts as healthy livestock feed.

The current focus on reducing food waste also extends to individual households, where consumers are looking for ways to waste less food, especially in light of rising grocery bills.

“The easiest way to divert food from the waste system is to eat it, and there was just a stat that came out that the average Canadian wastes $2,000 a year in food,” said McArthur, who encouraged stakeholders to share ideas for reducing household food waste with their customers.

Communicate the consumer benefit of ag innovations.

Innovation in agriculture is only expected to grow, and with new technologies and practices comes certain communication challenges and opportunities.

McArthur pointed to CRISPR gene editing as an example of a technology we’ll be seeing more of, noting that clearly communicating the consumer benefit of this tool will be key. “I think it’s going to be really important to bridge that consumer gap in terms of how we talk about this,” she said.

“That’s probably where industry went wrong, in my opinion, in terms of GMOs. We’re going to need GMOs in the future to solve for a number of things; unfortunately, the first-use case was not of benefit to the consumer, it was of benefit to the industry. So with CRISPR, hopefully we’re going to learn our lesson and make sure that there’s a strong consumer benefit there as well.”

Nourish Food Marketing’s annual roundup of the top trends in the food and beverage industry (as well as some agricultural trends), offers food system stakeholders guidance on how to turn these trends into opportunities. The 2023 Trend Report, titled “The Future is Transformative,” is available for download on the Nourish website.

About the Author

Piper grew up on a purebred cow-calf operation in Southern Alberta, and she studied English and history at the University of Alberta and journalism at the University of King's College. She has written for industry publications for more than a decade.


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