What Can 23 Billion Recipes Tell Us?
With 250 million users and a whopping 23 billion recipes (yes, that’s with a B!), Pinterest is a veritable powerhouse of all things food. Taking a look at their top trends for 2019 tells us a little something about consumers, especially those who like to browse mouthwatering visuals.
The top three searches based on a percent increase over the past year tell the story of a return to home cooking. Or at least a return to the imagery and information that can theoretically inspire such. Within the food category, here are the top three:
Homemade Jam (+ 829%)
Foil Pack Dinners (+ 759%)
Baking Bread (+ 413%)
Does this tell us that consumers want an easy, homemade hot meal coupled with a side of toast with jam? In a word, yes. It’s arguably much more though. This is a rallying cry to return to more traditional foods that blend nostalgia with modern sensibilities.
One quick glance at some of the top Pinterest boards and these jams are not your Grandma’s jams. Nope. Recipes include sugar-free, pectin-free, 5-minute jam options with functional adds like chia seed. In many cases, they’re vegan, Paleo and/or gluten-free, though most will fall short of keto dreams. Jam is not a fat bomb after all.
Consumers can rest assured that today’s homemade jams are quick and easy. And product developers take note, these jams represent clean label standards all the way, with many including only three or four ingredients. A good example is one with berries, honey, lemon juice, and chia seeds. Since many recipes are pectin-free, the chia seeds are often included as the thickener and textural element.
Foil Pack Dinners
The crockpot era has most recently become the instant pot era. But let’s not forget the wonder that is tin foil. By combining a protein like chicken with some veggies and herbs, the home cook can wrap it all up in foil and just bake. The only gotcha is that everything needs to be chopped and sliced into specific sizes based on the cook time and type of ingredient so that it all reaches doneness at the same time. Be sure to follow the typically short set of directions.
Foil pack dinners is currently a space dominated by food influencers and bloggers telling us how to do this at home - which is great. What intrigues me the most though is the potential. It seems like an easy space for food brands to pre-select ingredients, chop them to specific sizes and weights and then combine them in a foil pack which could even arrive chilled at my doorstep. All I would need to do is pop 'em in the oven! Any brands out there listening? Call me. 🤙☎
In browsing the Pinterest bread options, I quickly realize virtually every option exists from brioche with a recipe written entirely in French to no-knead vegan options that appear quite idiot proof. The point here is despite the grain-free diet phenomenon, many consumers are still browsing, baking and eating bread. The difference now is more about upping the game on the quality and variety.
Said differently, informed consumers are wary of ingredients like potassium bromate, azodicarbonamide (who can forget the Subway debacle?), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and other approved additives by the FDA. Yes, they’re acceptable for inclusion in bread from a regulatory perspective, but the issue is consumers want simplicity - especially in the simplest of foods.
Does this mean we have a fleet of home bread bakers underfoot? I sure hope so speaking for my own home! [yes dear - I’m looking at you 👀] However, I think more realistically, we’ll be seeing changes in how freshly baked bread can be brought to the masses. Just take one peek at the Breadbot, on full display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, and you know these loaves will sell based on in-store aromas alone!
I bet I know what you data-driven readers are saying to yourselves. Dr. Rachel, is this really representative of consumers at-large given it’s only looking at Pinterest users? The answer is probably not, at least not in the strictest sense of statistical generalizability. But hey, I say paying attention to the inspirational website for 250 million users is worth a look-see and is another valuable piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding today’s consumer.