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2024 Midyear Trends Update

Midan Marketing

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Image of chart with person pushing grocery cart along the arrow going up showing inflation.

Most of the time, the Midan team is focused on looking forward, with our research eye trained on today’s meat consumers: In what ways are they evolving into the meat eaters of tomorrow? But around this time every year, we stop and take an intentional look backward… specifically, at our Top Trends to Watch report. Because consumers are a constantly moving target, we like to explore how our predictions from December are shaking out as the year progresses.

Below, we highlight two key trends that have continued to evolve in 2024: Inflation and Sustainability

Inflation is Still a Thing: When the Dollar Menu is Not $1 Anymore

Consumer prices jumped 3.3% year-over-year on an unadjusted basis in May while food prices increased 2.1%, according to the May 2024 Consumer Price Index.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. A recent survey by the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers backs this up. In May, consumers weren’t as optimistic about the U.S. economy; consumer sentiment registered 67.4 points on the consumer sentiment index, down 12.7% from April and the lowest reading in six months. The upshot: Consumers are uncertain about where the economy is going, citing concerns about inflation, unemployment and interest rates.2

Inflation is impacting more than grocery stores prices. “Fast-flation” – rising prices at fast-food restaurants – is making “drive-through dinner” a luxury for some. According to a new survey from Lending Tree, 3 in 4 consumers typically eat fast-food at least once a week, but 62% say they’re eating it less due to rising prices. This is not surprising considering that many of the top fast-food chains have raised prices an average of 60% in the last 10 years.3

Takeaway: When consumers don’t feel confident about the economy and even the affordable options for eating out get too costly, dinner at home looks pretty good. Promoting meat’s value continues to be a smart strategy for retailers and packer/processors to help offset inflation’s challenges.

Our research tells us that decision-making at the meat case involves more than just price. For example, Midan’s Beef Attributes Study revealed that while price is at the top of the value equation for beef, other attributes like quality, brand, claims, nutrition and sustainability also play an essential role in how consumers choose the best package of beef for their family. Other ways to add value include offering a variety of case ready options that can help get a flavorful meal on the table quickly.

“Regen Ag” Claim is Picking Up Steam, Consumers Continue to Redefine “Sustainability”

The topic of sustainability is a behemoth that continues to shape-shift and evolve. In our 2024 Top Trends to Watch report, we noted that regenerative agriculture was getting a lot of buzz. But it’s more than just talk… According to the SPINS 2024 trends report, products “Certified Regenerative Organic” saw a 39% YOY jump in unit growth at the end of 2023. Also notable is that sales of some other sustainably related certifications are slowing (e.g., sales of organic products are down 4%).4

Through Midan’s own research, we have also begun to see a change specifically in how meat consumers define sustainability. In our 2021 study on Sustainably Raised Meat, we learned at the time that most meat consumers connected sustainably raised meat primarily to animal welfare and only secondarily to environmental issues, such as carbon footprint and waste reduction. Our 2023 Meat Consumer Segmentation 3.0 research revealed that 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. While consumers still referenced animal welfare issues, they are no longer at the top of the list.

Our Segmentation 3.0 study also uncovered a group of consumers who prioritize sustainability when purchasing meat or poultry: Sustainability Enthusiasts. And while only 17% of consumers surveyed were considered Sustainability Enthusiasts, they report being willing to pay more for products that support sustainability. Learn more about today’s sustainable meat shopper in Midan’s Sustainability Profile Report.

Takeaway: To keep pace with how today’s meat consumers are thinking about sustainability, focus your sustainability message on how your brand, product and business are working to protect and repair the environment, but continue to address animal welfare as part of the mix. And to capture those extra dollars that Sustainability Enthusiasts are willing to spend on meat products, ensure your on-pack, in store and online messaging highlight your sustainability and/or regenerative ag claims.