For the second year in a row FullTilt Marketing surveyed food bloggers from across the country to get their perspective on what they view as the relevant food trends and how those trends are shaping meal time realities for everyday consumers.
“When it comes to consumer trends, food bloggers offer a unique perspective,” stated FullTilt managing partner Heidi McIntyre. “They are constantly monitoring the responses to their recipe posts, engaging with their followers and keeping tabs on other food bloggers, which gives them an edge in understanding consumer preferences.”
This year, in addition to food trends, FullTilt said it also took a deeper dive into meal planning and shopping behaviors in response to the dynamic grocery marketplace.
So how did bloggers rank overarching food trends and emerging food and drink concepts? From global flavors and veggie centric meals, street food, protein alternatives and vegetable substitutes, bloggers gave us the real world feedback.
It’s all about whole, fresh & locally grown
An overall theme became clear this year, according to FullTilt: the desire for food that is whole, fresh and non-processed. In fact, added ingredients and not natural ranked highest among blogger concerns about food, a dramatic increase from 2017 responses. The whole food trend combined with a sense of nostalgia permeated blogger comments about getting back to the basics and cooking from scratch.
Locally grown still reigns
In keeping with the desire for fresh and non-processed, the marketing company said it’s not surprising that the conversation about ‘how and where our food is grown’ continues to be a top trend with trend makers, bloggers and consumers ranking number one in our blogger food discussion. Locally grown is here to stay. And according to food industry research firm, Packaged Facts, it translates into sales as they anticipate local food sales to increase to $20 billion in 2019 outpacing the country’s total food and beverage sales growth.
Whole 30 not just for crossfitters
Specialty diets and healthy meals ranked a close 2nd and 3rd among bloggers for importance of leading trends. Today Health & Science reports that 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and the majority of households have at least one member on a specialty diet. This also follows the trend that indicates that specialty diets like Whole 30, keto and paleo continue to have popular appeal.
Food bowls are out and comfort is in
Last year, smoothie bowls, food bowls and poke were heating up the social feeds, but beyond 2018, the bowl is out, FullTilt Marketing found. Bloggers and their followers are heading back to the basics. DIY isn’t just for crafts and homemade comfort foods are in. Pickling and fermenting, homemade condiments and DIY fermenting are on the rise. And expect comfort food to take rise in street food inspired dishes and global flavors like curry, pad Thai, tikka masala, ramen and even poutine making waves from restaurants to home kitchens.
Added ingredients, Not Natural is number 1 concern
When asked about their concerns related to topics like social responsibility, sustainability, food waste, gluten, hormones, GMO’s and more, bloggers showed distinct increases in all areas related to their concerns about what is in food they consume. This year, there was a near double increase in the concern over added ingredients followed by increased concern over GMO’s which ranked #1 last year.
“It’s not surprising to see growing consumer awareness about the food they eat, especially related to where it’s from, who grew it/made it, and what’s in it,” commented Melinda Goodman; Managing Partner at FullTilt. “Today’s consumer has access to more information than ever before and we are entering a new era of consciousness that has consumers considering a holistic view of health, wellness and even community and economic impact.”
What’s in the cart
New this year bloggers were asked to share how their shopping habits have changed: both where they shop and what they buy. The majority reported doing more shopping online and at least a third of bloggers reported shopping both more stores and more value formats. These bloggers with their fingers on the pulse, who often recommend products to their readers, also indicated a step back from national brands with 70 percent purchasing more local, specialty and craft brands and half reporting purchasing more private label products.
“Consumers of every type are fickle; including bloggers and their readers. As marketers it’s our job to continue to make educated guesses about what’s next, while also wooing consumers to choose what we tell them to,” remarked Goodman. “What is clear from the survey is consumers have an expectation to be better informed. 72 percent of bloggers told us that they felt brands were doing a better job of being more transparent, but those results came with a healthy dose of skepticism where bloggers shared comments that they also felt that transparency was cloaked in telling them what they wanted to hear and they weren’t sure what information they could trust.”
Overall, FullTilt observed the results indicate that the trends aren’t as complicated as we might anticipate. Consumers want safe, healthy food their families will enjoy. That food can come from any place, as long as it offers value and aligns with their personal ethos.