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Online Trends

Published August 21st 2018

Food Influencers: The Biggest Food Trends of 2018

The Brandwatch React team was hungry as ever to discover food influencers and what they were talking about most in 2018. Find out the most popular food and diets here

Like we’ve said before, food has always been a social thing that brings people together.

Yet it seems the glory days of eating in family units and in restaurants are behind us – it’s becoming more and more common to eat alone (even when we’re out),

Despite the awkwardness of sitting alone amongst couples, eight in ten people believe that eating alone is more socially acceptable than it was five years ago.

It turns out our smartphones are sufficient company, with sites like Bookatable seeing rises in solo diner bookings of the last few years.

Are we still able to talk about food as a social business? We most certainly think so.

The foodie influencer

The Brandwatch React team has covered food trends on social media for the last few years and were keen to see how things had developed in 2018 so far. You can read our 2017 assessment here.

Luckily, much this year’s work was done for us – the wonderful Nick Taylor compiled a huge collection of influencer lists including three sets of accounts that influence Twitter’s “foodie” community.

We decided to adapt our methodology from previous years and use the three foodie influencer lists to to find out which food types these accounts, which tweet to hungry followers, were pushing.

The results, especially when looking across different regions, were truly interesting.

The top trending foods in the UK and the US

In order to find trending food types, we used Brandwatch Analytics’ trusty word cloud to surface trending keywords on each week of 2018 so far. Each time we saw a food, we added it to a list and then checked for mentions of that food throughout the whole of 2018.

In the UK, we found a lot of sugary foods being discussed among the foodie influencers. And that chimes nicely with the data we have from the World Cup, which found cake just below pizza and fries as a favorite match snack.

Meanwhile, in the US we found the traditional and healthier alternatives of “chicken” and “salad” among the top five.

Brandwatch image
Brandwatch image

The US numbers were more in tune with the overall data we found, which wasn’t location specific. In the same order, chicken, chocolate, cheese, cake and salad were the top foods we found discussed by our influencers.

Bonus data: We did some extra analysis on UK food trends, finding that conversation around salad decreased when comparing the period Jan-Feb with Jun-Jul. It dropped by around 41%. During those same periods, mentions of cake rose around 309% in the latter half of the year. Those new years diets didn’t last long!

Diet data

More broadly speaking, we were also able to look at conversation around specific diets coming from these influencers.

If you had any doubt about the power of veganism, this chart will probably surprise you.

Influencers were discussing vegan and gluten-free dishes more than vegetarian.

We recently conducted analysis around the vegan community on various platforms including Instagram and Reddit, looking into brand-related conversation, veganism as an identity and opportunities for food and beverage companies on social. You can find out more on that here.

What can we learn from this year’s top food?

The top five foods within influencer conversation in 2018 – chicken, chocolate, cheese, cake and salad – might be surprising when we observe the prominence of veganism among the diet conversation we analyzed.

A look at the wider list of popular foods among influencer conversations can add to this picture. Here’s the top 25, labelled with foods that are either vegan or have popular vegan alternatives:

  1. Chicken
  2. Chocolate (sometimes v)
  3. Cheese (sometimes v)
  4. Cake (sometimes v)
  5. Salad (v)
  6. Eggs
  7. Cream/ice cream (sometimes v)
  8. Butter (sometimes v)
  9. Burgers (sometimes v)
  10.  Sauce (sometimes v)
  11.  Pasta
  12.  Garlic (v)
  13.  Sugar
  14.  Pizza (sometimes v)
  15.  Soup (sometimes v)
  16.  Pork
  17.  Lemon (v)
  18.  Bacon
  19.  Fish
  20.  Salmon
  21.  Avocado (v)
  22.  Peanut butter (v)
  23.  Tart
  24.  Broccoli (v)
  25.  Zucchini (v)

More than 50% of the list is either a vegan product or has a popular vegan alternative – there’s a lot of potential variety to the vegan diet, and many of the products we associate with being meaty or dairy-y are still accessible to vegans.

We can’t compare this data to last year’s since the methodology was very different, but we can say that the signs point to the continuing popularity of veganism online.

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