It’s Friday. It’s noon-ish. It’s 2023. Time to catch up on what’s happening (and what might happen) in food production:

  • Lots of different angles on what to expect in 2023.
  • Something in the budget for everyone in food and ag, courtesy of the U.S. government.
  • An abundance of shuffling among prominent roles throughout food production.

Now Trending: Trend Predictions

From food safety to flavors to fast food, food media fervently predicted trends and happenings for 2023. Below is a list of the quick hits we found worth checking out. You also can review our own predictions on The Intel Distillery website.

New and Influential

We tracked a good amount of turnover among influential people in food, beverage and agriculture. Keeping tabs of the individuals driving food production is critical to our analysis; below are some notable moves. If the U.S. Congress ever sorts itself out, we’ll report back on relevant legislative assignments.

  • Hain Celestial, a company that identifies with “better-for-you” foods, appointed Wendy P. Davidson as president and CEO, effective January 1. Davidson will bring her experience from Glanbia Nutritionals, Kellogg and Tyson Foods.
  • Starting January 5, Dave Flitman will take over as CEO of distribution leader U.S. Foods (Supermarket News).
  • David Chavern took over for Geoff Freeman on January 3 as president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association (Food Business News).
  • In November, Ahold Delhaize USA (Food Lion, Giant, Stop & Shop) announced the appointment of J.J. Fleeman to CEO. Fleeman will make the transition in April from president of Peapod Digital Labs and chief e-commerce officer for Ahold (Chainstore Age).
  • In a move that nearly broke the ag media internet, Alexis Taylor was confirmed as USDA trade undersecretary (Progressive Farmer).
  • Meatingplace reported two other key USDA appointments at the close of 2022: Jose Emilio Esteban as undersecretary of agriculture for food safety and Doug McKalip as chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
  • “Jon Doggett, a forceful and highly successful advocate for agriculture during his 35-year career as a lobbyist and chief executive, is preparing to depart the National Corn Growers Association at the end of [December].” We could not say it any better than the press release, and we’re watching closely for new leadership at NCGA. Have they interviewed the corn kid?

Uncle Sam’s Checkbook

Congress wrapped up its 2022 term by approving the 2023 budget on December 22. The hodgepodge of smaller spending bills known as an “omnibus” included no shortage of food- and agriculture-related provisions. The last-minute nature of the agreement meant that analyses continued to roll in through this week. Negotiating budgets with spouses is tough enough, we can’t imagine trying it with politicians.

  • Food Safety News noted that the funding bill earmarked $41 million for the FDA to overhaul its food safety program per recommendations made by the Reagan-Udall Foundation.
  • The Food Research & Action Center raised concerns about a “hunger cliff” with the sunsetting of emergency nutrition assistance. At the same time, the bill permanently expanded access to the summer meals program, which Feeding America called “a critical step forward.”
  • The USDA’s climate-smart agriculture program secured more funding as well, earning praise from an array of groups that ranged from the Farm Bureau and Milk Producers Federation and Soil Science Society to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and Environmental Defense Fund.
  • The Scoop caught one provision that failed to make the cut, despite coordinated lobbying efforts: H-2A guest worker visa program reform. In an Agri-Pulse opinion piece, National Pork Producers Council President Terry Wolters encouraged the new Congress to address year-round access to workers.
  • It wouldn’t be an omnibus bill without obscure riders sliding in. The Portland Press Herald reported that one such rider froze federal regulation of the lobster industry for six years. The Guardian tracked opposition from activist groups seeking to protect whales.

Worth Reading

‘Salt on Salt’

Washington Post columnist Emily Heil summarized the latest TikTok food trend: caviar on Doritos. It has been almost universally panned by established chefs after influencer Danielle Zaslavsky’s post went viral. Eric Ripert, the chef and owner of Le Bernardin in New York, said in the article, “The Dorito is not going to enhance the caviar. The caviar might improve the Dorito, though … It’s salt on salt.”

Stinging Back

The USDA approved a vaccine on January 4 that protects honeybees against American Foulbrood disease. NPR quoted California State Beekeepers Association board member Tauzer Apiaries: “If we can prevent an infection in our hives, we can avoid costly treatments and focus our energy on other important elements of keeping our bees healthy.” This is a big win, as other hindrances — Varroa mites, reduced forage, etc. — also plague pollinators.

Defiance for Dinner

Clocking in at more than 20 pages and 250 items, the Cheesecake Factory’s puffy menu is worthy of awe. Vox’s Alex Abad-Santos attempted to explain it: “The rules that govern regular restaurants have no power over the Cheesecake Factory.”

Global Pizza Party

Big Seven Travel ranked the 50 best pizzas in the world, exploring products from Hong Kong to Finland to the U.S. to, of course, Italy. “As well as celebrating those pizzas that honour time-old traditions and techniques, we want to shout about the pizzas that take the world’s favourite food to a whole new level, be it through sustainably-sourced flour or creative combos.” We’re OK with Pequod’s from Chicago making the list, but Canada and New York were both over-represented.


University of Wisconsin lecturer Anna Thompson Hajdik penned a commentary in the Daily Yonder called “The History of Slaughterhouse Tourism.” According to one account, a century ago, tourists flocked to Union Stockyards in Chicago as if visiting Niagara Falls. While times have changed, the author reflected, meat production has the opportunity to build trust with consumers through transparency. Umm, think twice on that.

Alien’s-eye View

The first satellite dedicated to studying agriculture conditions launched on January 3 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. AgWeb’s Margy Eckelkamp outlined the plans of EOS Data Analytics, which seeks to put six more satellites into low-Earth orbit by 2025. The constellation will be able to monitor soil moisture and predict yields, among other applications.