2011 brought us higher food prices at unprecedented levels, crops and livestock destroyed by global weather catastrophes, nations at war over the lack of food supplies, and more food recalls from unique points of origin. Americans love their foods – in supermarkets, on television, at restaurants and now even on their mobile phones – we are a nation obsessed with food trucks, molecular gastronomy and struggling to eat as local as we can. All of which has built a foundation for what may be one of the most exciting – and game-changing – years in the food world: Welcome to Food 2012.

There is little doubt that in the coming years, we will continue to see food prices rise based on environmental conditions as well as offsetting higher production costs. The costs of fuel, feed, packaging and food safety, coupled with a higher demand for export, all will factor into the retail price on the shelf.

Many of the savings tactics most shoppers deployed in 2007 as the recession began, are still being used each time they shop for groceries today. Using coupons, frequent shopper cards, shopping lists, shopping at non-traditional foods stores and even trading down their choices to less expensive brands are part of the regular routine. Look for consumers to shave costs by augmenting their recipes by decreasing the amount of the more expensive meats and seafood and adding more non-meat proteins that are filling and less expensive, including adding whole-wheat pasta, tofu, lentils, brown rice and vegetables to recipes.

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