Hello and welcome to Plated by Bader Rutter, our weekly capture of the most important happenings in food, beverage, and agriculture. After hitting your inbox practically every Friday (by noon) since April 5, 2019, we decided it was time to freshen things up. Our new format and time (Thursday afternoons) will bring the same insights, analysis and summaries with a fresh look. Watch for further tweaks as we continue to distill the most important topics trending in our industry.

Speaking of trends, while it’s a new year, this week’s topics will seem familiar to our long-time readers:

  • Food prices: down — but drama ensues 
  • Resolutions: plentiful — from dieting to weight loss to Damp January
  • Predictions: abound — trends, disruption, innovation

Resolute Diets

Pledging to cut back on food or booze is a staple of New Year’s resolutions. This year is no different, but some are wondering if that may change by the end of the decade.

  • U.S. News & World Report published its annual review of best diets. Unsurprisingly, the Mediterranean diet held its spot at the top.
  • Dr. Michael Greger explained a common problem with dieting, in which weight loss plateaus after several weeks (NutritionFacts.org).
  • In AgFunder News, venture capitalist Bharat Vasan explored the impact of weight loss drugs on appetite. He predicted that easier access to products like Ozempic and Zepbound will profoundly alter dieting trends by 2030.
  • Julie Jargon of The Wall Street Journal investigated another facet of healthy eating habits: time of day. Jargon spoke with experts who recommended against eating late, while another responded, “The best dinnertime is the one you can stick to.”
  • The usual “Dry January” has been overshadowed by the less-severe “Damp January” this year. Eater’s Jaya Saxena delved into the trend and relished the opportunity to rag on “the adjective that embodies the essence of sitting in a cold room after you’ve been caught in a rainstorm” as a synonym for moderation.

“We’re not disappointed in our employees; we’re disappointed in ourselves as managers and leaders. The fact that a majority of Norfolk employees feel they wanted or needed a union constitutes a failure on our part.”

 Ron Vachris, CEO, Costco (Progressive Grocer)

Deflated Expectations

Inflation, extreme weather, war and compromised supply chains have all played a role in rising food costs. Economic pundits predict inflation moderation in 2024, but some volatility (and drama) persists worldwide. While lower prices benefit consumers, retailers and foodservice outlets are concerned about rising costs and slim margins.

  • USDA’s Food Price Outlook reflected the global inflation prediction. Agri-Pulse summarized, “Food price inflation is on track to return to historical levels this year, as consumers can expect to see softened grocery store prices after experiencing a prolonged run-up during the COVID pandemic.”
  • The Associated Press noted that the FAO Food Price Index, was 13.7% lower last year than the 2022 average. However, the commodities sugar and rice increased due to climate issues in Asian growing regions.
  • One notable flare-up over food prices occurred on January 4 when French retailer Carrefour ceased carrying Pepsico products in 9,000 stores in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium (Food Business News). Quartz captured the finger-pointing between PepsiCo, Carrefour and the French government.
  • Closer to home, Supermarket News interviewed four grocery analysts about their opinions on prices leveling off. Scott Mushkin from R5 Capital suggested, “The prospect of price deflation, after nearly three years of rising prices, could pressure operator margins at a time when labor costs remain high.”

Tubers to Rule ’24

The list of worthwhile 2024 watchouts extended into the first week of January. Here are a few that span the food and agriculture continuum and cover everything from corn prices to ube, a bright purple root vegetable from the Philippines.

Worth Reading


Shelf-stable packaging is evolving. Supermarket Perimeter explored how dairy producers and packaging companies are working together to develop recyclable innovations that can reduce food waste without increasing costs for consumers. As these groups integrate new materials and technologies to improve sustainability, retrofitting lines without impeding productivity or packaging adaptability for different sizes and formats has presented temporary challenges.


On the heels of winning a national championship, Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh can now return his focus to his other passion: chicken farming. The Wall Street Journal detailed how Harbaugh has been raising hens in “a five-star hotel for chickens” since 2020. Despite facing challenges, including a fox raid, Harbaugh has created an optimum egg-laying environment for his hens and believes that raising them has boosted his mental health. If only he could teach them to sack opposing quarterbacks.


As restaurant brands look for effective ways to connect with their target audiences, influencers may be their best option. Nation’s Restaurant News reported that food and beverage brands earned more than 75 billion impressions and 3 billion engagements through influencer marketing in the first half of 2023. The growing popularity of this strategy embodies a trend for industry leaders, especially those who want to garner the attention of Gen Z consumers.


Are co-branded collaborations appropriate for all consumer packaged goods? While the recent launch of a Starbucks-themed Stanley tumbler was a resounding success at Target, The Washington Post indicated that cookie-scented body wash, french fry-flavored vodka and high-end potato chip handbags lack authentic synergy — and no one likes inauthentic synergy. Collaborations can drive brand awareness, but only time will tell if the next viral “drop” continues to blur the line between strategy and shock value.

No, “Ube” is not a Star Wars character; it’s a trending purple yam from the Philippines. Consider it a more flamboyant rutabaga.
Credit: Midjourney illustration by Ryan J. Smith