At this time of year, food trends lists are ubiquitous. From BBC Good Food to Whole Foods Market, it seems like everyone is predicting what and how we'll be eating in 2018. And while these lists often make for fun conversation around the dinner table, do they really matter? For food content creators at least, the answer is yes.
Not all food trends are created equal
Is it as simple as creating content to match each food trend on the list? No. As with every aspect of marketing and content creation, knowing your audience is key. Are they going to fall in love with functional mushrooms? Is plant-based protein a more accessible trend? Analysing the data and understanding what sort of content converts is a key starting point that helps turn food trends lists into a powerful, influential marketing tool.
Understanding what your audience wants may well be the easy bit when it comes to food trends. Sorting the trends from the fads and predicting which ones will take off is altogether more difficult. Since food brands, retailers and recipe content creators often plan their editorial calendars months in advance, a safer bet may be to focus on two or three trending ingredients or concepts with mainstream potential rather than anything with niche appeal. Since simple, quick and healthy meals are a priority for most home cooks, accessible food trend-based recipes will have almost instant appeal and longer-term SEO benefits.
Food fads have benefits too
While annual food trends lists are helpful, they're not exhaustive. Trends are often driven throughout the year by social media, particularly Instagram. While these often turn out to be passing fads, they frequently act as a prediction for the following year's trends. While there are no real long-term benefits to leveraging these fads, the short-term benefits should not be ignored. Content creators need to act quickly, though. A fantastic example of this is the highly Instagrammable cloud eggs fad. As evidenced by the Google Trends data below, cloud eggs had a limited lifespan. The trend peaked between May 7-13 before the search volume dropped dramatically. By June, cloud eggs were all but dead. For that short period where the search volume was at its highest, those who were quick off the mark and shared a recipe benefitted from increased website traffic.
Looking at the predicted food trends for 2018, both Whole Foods Market and BBC Good Food have one in common. Unsurprisingly, it's Plant-Based Proteins. The rising interest in veganism, but also flexitarianism, means that more and more consumers are turning towards non-meat sources of protein. While floral flavours, shell-less tacos and poke bowls are all set to trend in 2018, for savvy food marketers, plant-based protein is might well be the smart place to start.