The 3 biggest food trends on English-, Chinese- and Japanese- language social media

21 Jun 2022

Trend Updates

People talk about (or share) the foods they’re passionate about. That’s why part of the always-on Taste Tomorrow consumer research is an AI technology that monitors online conversations on social media. The data gathered there gives us insight into which trends are increasing or declining in popularity across different markets. Based on data gathered in the second half of 2021, we’ve compiled a list of the three biggest trends in bakery, patisserie and chocolate across the English, Chinese and Japanese language areas:

Trends in English

Across global English social content, the three biggest trends were: 

1. Plant-based 

English content dominated the conversations around vegan food. After a spike caused by ‘Veganuary’ at the beginning of the year, we see seasonal variations in the topics discussed. In the fall, recipes featuring pumpkin spice and cinnamon were immensely popular, linking this trend closely with the next one: vegetable-based patisserie.

2. Vegetable-based patisserie 

English was the only language showing growth in conversations around vegetable-based patisserie, mostly due to the popularity of pumpkins and sweet potatoes for autumnal treats. Seasonal holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving play a major part in those spikes. The vegetable waffle, in particular—made with fall vegetables, pumpkin spice, pecan nuts and cream cheese frosting—was a huge hit.

3. Sourdough

In social media conversations, we see an interest in using a wider variety of ingredients and flavors with sourdough. Cheese-based sourdough dishes stood out in particular, mostly promoted by restaurants and food outlets. Think of cheddar and jalapeno bread, or sourdough grilled cheese sandwiches. Any new product innovations based on cheese and sourdough are bound to resonate with online audiences.

Trends in Chinese

In conversations on Chinese social media platforms, the most popular food topics were:

1. Vegetable-based patisserie

Chinese consumers expressed an interest in local dishes with a vegetable twist. Vegetable Mooncakes were frequently shared, for instance. By creating a healthier version of this classic, such as by swapping egg yolks for red bean paste, consumers can still indulge in their traditional snack. As ingredients for patisserie, root vegetables like pumpkins and sweet potatoes were particularly popular.

2. Gut health

Gut health as a trend was most prominent in the Chinese language. Over the course of the last year, online conversations around the topic grew considerably. The launch of a new gut friendly breakfast shake by the brand OATOAT generated a particularly huge amount of buzz. 

3. Balanced nutrition

Conversations around balanced nutrition in China focused mainly on nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Consumers are looking for easy solutions to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Our data reveals lots of mentions of meal-replacement drinks and snacks, as well as nutrient-rich freeze-dried fruits that are both quick to consume and convenient.

Trends in Japanese

Japanese consumers mentioned these trends online most frequently:

1. Vegetable-based patisserie

In fall, Japanese consumers purchase vast amounts of Mont-Blanc pastries. The traditional French recipe—named after the country's highest mountain—became a huge hit on the other side of the world. The pastry is made with chestnut paste and whipped cream, but Japanese patisseries love to include fall vegetables such as pumpkins and potatoes as well. This vegetable treatment is given to many more cakes, puddings, and cookies. Purple potato, sweet potato and pumpkins in particular are used for these permissible indulgences. 

2. Plant-based

While plant-based discussions rank second in this trend overview, the hype is significantly less compared to the other language areas we’re researching. Veganism and vegetarianism have long been extremely uncommon in Japan, so while plant-based eating is on the rise, it isn’t very mainstream yet.

3. Natural/organic

In Japan, the natural eating trend is mainly revealed in the search for products that are organic, fairtrade, and free of additives. Chocolate products with these qualities are particularly sought after. 

Additional trend: special flours

In Japan, consumers appreciate alternative flours that limit their intake of carbohydrates. They want to eat bread products with less guilt, and that’s why Okara powder is trending. This is despite there being plenty of downsides: the texture, taste, and odor are all not as good as with traditional flour. Home bakers are therefore creating their own flour mixtures with other flour replacements such as rice or almond flour. These mixtures are used for a wide array of recipes. Not just bread, but also cake, cookies and pancakes. 

Curious about what the top three social media trends are in Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Italian? Discover them here.

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The 3 biggest food trends on Spanish-, Portuguese-, French-, German- and Italian- language social media

The 3 biggest food trends on Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Italian social media

AI technology constantly monitors online conversations as part of the Taste Tomorrow consumer research. The data shows food trends across several language areas.