Industry Insights & Trends



Food trends this year have been heavily shaped by the pandemic and the current racial protests happening in the US. There is an emphasis on homey reassurance. Consumers are looking for comfort, ease, and flexibility from food, but are also demanding that the brands that provide these comforts are transparent about their practices, and that their practices and products give more than they take.

Going Deeper into 2020 Food Search Trends

Insight 1: Worldwide High for “Recipe” Searches on Google, Focused on Carb-Heavy Cozy Goods

  • Google announced that searches for the word “recipe” have reached an all-time high, both in the US and around the world- likely due to more people staying home thanks to COVID-19.
  • The top 10 most-frequently searched for terms that included the word “recipe” as of the end of April were as follows: banana bread recipe, pancake recipe, chicken recipes, pizza dough recipe, brownie recipe, “recette crepe” (which means “crepe recipe” in French), meatloaf recipe, French toast recipe, lasagna recipe, and cheesecake recipe.
  • While Dalgona coffee had been popular earlier in the year, it had fallen off the top 10 list by that month.

Insight 2: Pinterest Search Trends Similar but Solution-Oriented

  • Pinterest’s top food searches in April focused squarely on bread, echoing the carb-heavy baked good ethos of much of the Google searches. They were more specific with terms, though, and were looking for flexible recipes that let them jump on trends with what they had on hand. Case in point? Searches for” yeastless bread recipes” rose by 4400%, “bread in crock pot” by 3191%, and “sweet Amish bread” by 1499%.
  • The trend for Pinterest recipe search terms as of July 24, 2020, are also more “problem-solution” oriented. The related top searches for both “food” and “recipe” include: “food ideas”, “food ideas for dinner”, “food recipes for dinner easy”, “foods to increase milk supply”, “recipes with hamburger meat”, “recipes with ham”, “recipes with broccoli” and “recipes with potatoes”. This fits with Pinterest’s overall positioning as a site that offers curated, inspirational ideas.
  • See the top pins on “food” here, and the top pins for “recipe” here.

Insight 3: Food Search Terms Driven By Deeper Context Not Just Fads

  • Taking a look at the above list, there is a heavy preponderance of comfort food and carb-heavy, dessert-like baking recipes. This is most likely a search for a way to cope given the tough times, according to culinary art therapist Julie Ohana.
  • In the US, recipes have a time component as well- the search term “recipes” spikes every single Sunday with regularity, most likely due to meal planning for the week.
  • The latest related search queries (as of July 24, 2020) in the US show an increasing number of terms related to summer-related, icy recipes- for example, searches for Dole Whip and margarita recipes are both increasing in frequency. The former has increased by 500% and the latter by 60%.
  • Some recipes peak at different times and places than others. For example, while searches for banana bread recipes were popular across the board, Australia saw an outsize jump. Searches for that term rose 47% in April for Pinterest.
woman opening a vegetable delivery box at home, online ordering

Trends on Instagram that Affect Food-Related Accounts

  • The top food-related hashtags on Instagram are #Food, #FoodPorn, #Yummy, #Foodie, #Delicious, #Dinner, #Breakfast, #Yum, #Lunch, and #Homemade.
  • The food-focused Instagrammers with the greatest followings on Instagram are Gordon Ramsay (9.2m followers), Jamie Oliver (8.2m followers), Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) (3.4m followers), Martha Stewart (3.1m followers), Yolanda Gampp (2.8m followers), Antonino Cannavacciuolo (2.7m followers), MARIAM | Cookin’ with Mima (2.3m followers), Cesar Gonzalez Cocinero (2.2m followers), Nigella Lawson (2.1m followers), and j o s e (1.6m followers).

Trend 1: Go Beyond the Product to Values

  • Consumers want to know not just what they’re eating, but what the values behind the brands that make their food are. These include the local farmers, the supply chain, and even their stance on social justice issues like Black Lives Matter. For example, Ree Drummond participated in the #sharethemicfoodandbev takeover, giving her platform over to Ashleigh Shanti, a young Black chef, for 24 hours.
  • Even before this, non-dairy milk brand Rebel Kitchen announced that they supported the ‘1% For The Planet’ (where a company donates 1% of their revenue to environmental non-profit partners) on Instagram.
  • How brands use Instagram’s features are beginning to reflect this. As the agency Later puts it, Instagram has moved beyond inspiration to become “destination education“, using the carousel feature for mass information sharing about values and purpose, and in the process becoming the new place to blog.

Trend 2: Go Beyond the Studio to Real Life

  • As entertainment everywhere begins to focus on more diverse narratives that reflect real life, that expectation is spilling over to food and drink accounts as well.
  • There are over 8.57m Instagram posts with the hashtag #realfood. 68% of people come to Instagram specifically to interact with creators.
  • Consumers may want their own photos to be picture perfect, but want to get a glimpse “behind the curtain”, granting a sense of authenticity to the influencers and brands they follow. This can also be seen by the rise of microinfluencers, who have smaller audiences but just as much trust- or more- than big celebrities. It’s a balance between beautiful photos and real stories that is driving audience interest, as seen by the fact that almost all the top accounts mentioned above include content featuring their real lives.
  • Instagram Live is perfect for this, and has boomed especially due to the pandemic. It allows for direct, authentic connections to your audience even when traditional advertising may not be seen. For example, Bon Appetit hosted a Benefit Dinner Party on Instagram Live in May and has continued to post Live videos from their Test Kitchen chefs.

Trend 3: Go Beyond Taste to Functional Benefits

  • Consumers are increasingly looking for functional benefits to the food they eat. People want diet to go beyond the basics, especially as health consciousness and anxiety is at such a heightened state. Brands on Instagram are playing to this by repositioning “functional” from risky, gross or intimidating, to enjoyable and everyday.
  • For example, Equinox Kombucha uses Instagram to show off how kombucha can be used in smoothies, mocktails or cocktails, as well as eating occasions that kombucha is perfect with. Because Instagram is a visual platform, Equinox Kombucha can inspire consumers to think differently about the category. This is powerful, especially as 60% of consumers discover new products on the platform.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at Simple Manifestation with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.


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