Billy Roberts

Senior Economist, Food and Beverage

Billy Roberts, Senior Economist of Food and Beverage - CoBank Knowledge Exchange division

Billy Roberts is senior economist for food and beverage in CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange research division. An expert in competitive intelligence and market landscape forecasting, Mr. Roberts has more than 20 years of experience delivering actionable insights to a variety of food and beverage audiences. He came to CoBank from the consumer market research firm Mintel where he conducted qualitative and quantitative research on consumer attitudes and behaviors for an international client base of major global food and drink manufacturers, retailers, and ingredient and packaging suppliers.

Mr. Roberts previously served as executive editor of business and new media at Prepared Foods/BNP media, a food industry news and trends magazine. He holds bachelors’ degrees in English and political science from University of Mobile.

Recent Reports

All Reports


Dairy Products Have More Growth Potential

July 2024

Most U.S. consumers purchase dairy, which is also the largest category in retail.

As Inflation and Geopolitical Concerns Fade, Domestic Issues Come to the Fore

July 2024

The U.S. economy continues to perform reasonably well by most metrics, but the red-hot labor market of the last two years is finally cooling off.

Coffee beans

Coffee Prices Jump on Flat Production, Global Demand Buzz

June 2024

Since January 2021, U.S. coffee importers – which supply 99.6% of the coffee consumed in the U.S. – have faced escalating costs for the commodity. Import prices jumped 65% between 2021-23, making a serious impact on consumer prices.

Sticky Inflation Puts Fed on the Horns of a Dilemma

Sticky Inflation Puts Fed on the Horns of a Dilemma

April 2024

As we pointed out in our Year Ahead report in December, expectations that the Fed would cut rates six or seven times were completely irrational.

Pet Food

Seeking Wellness, Younger Pet “Parents” Spur Pet Food Growth Trends

April 2024

Pet food spending increased nearly 12% over the past year, according to Circana, primarily driven by price increases. Volume sales, however, fell 2.7% YoY as consumers stretched their pet food dollar.


Volatile Cocoa, Sugar Prices Smack Confectionery Industry

February 2024

Valentine’s Day shoppers with chocolates on their list are in for sticker shock, continuing what they saw at Halloween and Christmas. Thanks to distinctly higher wholesale costs for sugar and particularly cocoa, consumers are paying 9.2% more than a year ago for confections, outpacing broader inflation.

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy in 2024

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy in 2024

December 2023

Despite multiple systemic shocks in recent years – COVID-19, trade conflict with China, the Russia-Ukraine war, surging inflation and interest rates – our economy has performed strongly.

“Higher for Longer” a Drag on Rural Economy

October 2023

The Fed’s relentless 20-month attack on inflation has pushed long-term interest rates to their highest levels in years.

Grocery Store

How Delivery Innovation Can Reduce Hunger in the Heartland

October 2023

The challenge facing rural consumers is largely born of a lack of access, with literally dozens of U.S. counties lacking food stores. In addition, only 37% of rural residents have access to major food delivery services.

Consumer Interest in Plant-Based Meats Fades Amid High Prices and Product Shortcomings

August 2023

Sales of plant-based meats are struggling as consumers turn to lower-cost and familiar proteins amid higher prices.


The Slowdown-Resistant Economy

July 2023

Despite predictions for a slowdown, the U.S. economy remains the envy of the world. Jobs are plentiful, asset values are near all-time highs, and consumers are spending