Google Identifies Top Food Trends
May 2

Google Identifies Top Food Trends

report released Thursday by search engine giant Google reveals what Americans are cooking and what’s still on the tip of our tongues.

“With every query typed into a search bar, we are given a glimpse into user considerations or intentions,” the report states. “By compiling top searches, we are able to render a strong representation of the United States population and gain insight into this population’s behavior.”

Google’s methodology in conducting this study was based off of the volume of search queries related to food every month between January 2014 and February 2016. First Google removed any seasonal effects from the data, then measuring the year-over-year growth, velocity and acceleration of searches. These metrics allowed for classification of the search queries into similar trend patterns.

Not only do these insights reveal what’s changing on our dinner tables, but they provide noteworthy clues for brands looking to move the needle by staying ahead of trends.

Here are the food trends picking up steam on Google:

The three categories indicate the type of volume these searches are accumulating. ‘Sustained risers’ are trends that have seen steady growth over the past years. ‘Seasonal risers’ are seasonal trends likely to continue to gain traction. ‘Rising stars’ saw sudden growth within the past months—their staying power is less certain.

Here are the trends that have come and gone:

Google defines ‘sustained decliners’ as trends that have steadily declined over the past years. ‘Seasonal decliners’ are trends likely to decrease in demand with each season each year. ‘Falling stars’ are fads already at their peak and starting to decline rapidly.

Google’s Deep Dive

Of the rising food trends, Google took a deeper look at five themes and one food representative of each. Here’s a look at some of the findings.

Food with a Function: Turmeric

Turmeric is a perennial plant in the ginger family that has quickly emerged as a rising star—its number of searches increased 56 percent from November 2015 to January 2016.

Health-conscious Americans are searching for different ways to use turmeric, whether it’s in golden milk or a smoothie. Unsurprisingly, searches are up 8 percent at the beginning of the week on Monday when consumers are most interested in improving their health.

According to Google, consumers are looking to fill needs beyond hunger or cravings. They are looking to educate themselves on the impact of ingredients on the body and then learn how to consume these ingredients.

Traveling through Taste: Pho

Pho has been trending for the past decade, with it gaining even more popularity since 2013. Searches have increased 11 percent year-over-year since then.

Consumers are interested in learning how to make the Vietnamese broth and noodle dish, but they’re equally interested in finding the best local spot to taste a professional’s twist on the dish. West coast inhabitants search for the dish more frequently and weekends are when the pho cravings are most real.

This trend speaks to consumers seeking to experience culture through what they eat. Brands can take this opportunity to provide consumers with DIY-friendly recipes or find the right influencer partners to leverage this trend.

Experimenting with Pork: Pork Shoulder

Barbecue isn’t new—especially in the south—but more consumers are looking to pig out on pork shoulder in new and unique ways. Searches for pork shoulder are up 22 percent on weekends, speaking to the consumer’s desire to make a meal into a full weekend experience.

The top 5 most-watched YouTube videos reveal Americans aren’t just interested in traditional preparation methods, but are also seeking variations like Korean and Cantonese recipes.

Bite-Sized Snacks: Mug Cake

Pinterest devotees have long praised the merits of the mug cake—but from December to January 2016 alone searches grew 82 percent.

These pint-sized desserts pinpoint a trend in American snacking: customization is king both in terms of taste and dietary restrictions. Popular search words paired with “mug cake” are “vegan,” “gluten free” and “no egg.”

The single-serving size of mug cakes exemplifies Americans seeking snacks that fit into a healthy lifestyle that can easily be made at home. For brands, offering more personalized options can help take advantage of this solo snacking trend.

The Pasta Comeback: Rigatoni

Google reports after four years of slow growth, search interest in pasta and specifically rigatoni began to increase in 2015. In the last year, rigatoni has seen a sustained growth of 26 percent.

Americans are 29 percent more likely to search for rigatoni recipes on the weekends, hoping to create a culinary experience by pairing searches with keywords like “casserole,” “sausage,” “pomodoro” and “primavera.”

The Takeaway

Rising trends often point to changing attitudes in consumers. General Mills leveraged this four years ago when it noticed a rising consumer demand for gluten-free products, choosing to adapt their products and advertising to the trend. The bottom line? Take note of these trends—and it might just better yours.