Clarkston Consulting
Skip to content

2023 Food Industry Trends

Read our updated trends report here: 2024 Food Industry Trends

Clarkston’s team of food and beverage industry consultants have highlighted the top food industry trends that businesses should consider. Read all seven trends for 2023 by downloading the full report here.

There are always two perspectives in an ever-changing market – companies and their consumers – and both parties are hitting a learning curve as the world settles into reduced pandemic regulations and new (and evolving) consumer habits and preferences.

From one perspective, food companies are navigating ways to best respond to and meet their consumers’ needs. On the other hand, consumers are looking to food companies to support their new lifestyles and habits – ones of convenience and health – as they continue to prioritize their own well-being and enjoy the benefits of shopping and ordering online. Looking into 2023 and beyond, food companies need to adapt and respond to meet the evolving needs and wants of the consumer while also providing constant customer support, or they risk being left behind in an increasingly competitive market.

In this 2023 food industry trends report, we break down consumer expectations within the food industry and the subsequent challenges faced by food companies.

2023 Food Industry Trends

Trend #1: Decreased Interest in Meat Alternatives Shows Strengthening of Flexitarian Dieting

Despite layoffs and declining sales of large meat alternative companies, consumers remain interested in decreasing the amount of animal products and byproducts in their diets. Whether for moral reasons, environmental reasons, or taste preferences, consumers have expanded their horizons from simply cutting out meat to a more adaptable diet known as flexitarian dieting. As many as 47% of Americans between age 24-39 identify themselves as flexitarians, actively replacing animal products and byproducts with plant-based alternatives. 

Although inflation has pushed consumers to actively make more deliberate choices about what they’re buying and the way that they’re buying it, they maintain their exploratory spirit, wanting to push new boundaries and continue to try new things. This is presenting new opportunities for companies, as consumers are creating openings for new plant-based alternative products that brands can explore to fill the demand for commonly used meat and dairy products.  

An area of caution while filling the market openings is the increased consideration of consumers’ personal health and the demand for ingredient simplification. Consumers are worrying about additives and other potentially harmful ingredients, with 62% reviewing a product’s ingredient list before buying an item. This creates a very clear line of what a consumer will find satisfactory in a new product.  

Health and flexitarian dieting go hand-in-hand in the mind of the consumer, particularly as more research is being conducted on the benefits of certain ingredients over others. While the rise in flexitarian dieting doesn’t appear as though it will decrease, it still creates a large bucket of variability in what a consumer will look for in that space.

Download the Full 2023 Food Industry Trends Report Here

Trend #2: Snacking Meets the Needs of Consumers On-the-Go

Snacking has become much more than simply eating between meals. With new variables introduced to consumers, including inflation, health concerns, and social media, many are choosing their snacks deliberately, making it more of a lifestyle choice. The biggest priority of snacking is convenience, as 45% of consumers eat at least three snacks daily. With more and more hybrid offices and consumers remaining on the move during work-from-home days, consumers need something easy, clean, and affordable so they can feel good about integrating the snacking habit into their lives. 

Consumers are eating snacks at home, while walking, or while driving at higher rates than at work or at school. We have adjusted to the constant idea of being on the go, as the flexibility of working from home has established a new standard for our day-to-day routine. This has also led to pushing the boundary of what constitutes a meal and what constitutes a snack, as consumers continue to replace the standard three meals per day with smaller and more frequent snacks.  

Replacing meals with snacks has brought nutrition to the forefront concern as consumers scour shelves for well-balanced options, with protein being the main macro-nutrient driver in these searches. Dried meat snacks were up in sales by 22.4% as a snacking category. This has not only sparked variety in those spaces but provided an opening for new products from meat alternative companies, expanding the product horizon and compelling consumers to be more adventurous in their eating. Openings are popping up every day, waiting to be filled while on-the-go consumers continue to seek out convenience and health in their snacking options. 

Trend #3: A Push Toward Ethical Sourcing and Visibility Through Food Traceability

The Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) from the FDA has made significant progress since its proposal, with the FDA laying out seven major rules to implement the legislature nationwide. These rules standardize the food traceability protocols, requiring organizations to re-evaluate the methods with which they approach their food traceability standards. Most recently, the final ruling for FSMA 204 established traceability recordkeeping requirements as a means to better protect public health.  

The push for transparency in food traceability is not unidirectional, rather, consumers have also demanded transparency in their food traceability. When surveyed, 72% of consumers stated that transparency is either important or extremely important in their decision when choosing a brand. This is an increase from 60% of consumers in the previous year  

As consumers learn more and more about business processes and the complex global food supply chain, they will continue to seek out transparency in the interest of their families’ health and well-being as well as environmental concerns. The increase in access to information is a huge driver behind this fact, considering that disgruntled workers, past employees, or even a clever journalist can easily expose an organization for its mishandling of processes.  

Companies like FoodLogiQ have expanded their efforts to provide software tailored specifically to tracking high-risk food items throughout the supply chain. These efforts increase the agility of the organizations, giving them confidence in an ever-changing market. Consumers will continue to learn and demand information as new technology provides that increased supply chain visibility and transparency; as such, it’s up to organizations to adapt to these growing needs. Continue reading the top seven trends for 2023 by downloading the full report below.

Download the Full 2023 Food Industry Trends Report Here

Read last year’s Food Industry Trends Report here.

Subscribe to Clarkston's Insights

  • I'm interested in...
  • Clarkston Consulting requests your information to share our research and content with you.

    You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Contributions from Julie Talbot

Tags: 2023 Trends, eBook