Food Corp’s COVID-19 trend forecast – the new normal

• Food Corp has top three websites in the Food category in Australia

News Corp Australia’s director of Food Corp Fiona Nilsson has released findings from the Food Corp Trend Forecast – The New Normal COVID-19 special edition, an insight for marketers into more than 8 million Australians who connect with News Corp Australia’s network of food brands.

The Food Corp Trend Forecast provides deep and real-time insights into the mindsets and trends of Australian food consumers by harnessing the data that the company’s food sites generate every day, from a search bar entry to each on-site click and social interaction.

Nilsson said: “As we adapt to spending more time at home, consumers have been turning to our trusted food brands, taste.com.au, delicious. and Australia’s Best Recipes in record numbers for meal inspiration.

“Being on top of consumer trends is imperative to our business, particularly when we’re seeing such big shifts in behaviour, from the ingredients and recipes consumers are searching through to the shifting priorities in health. This is why we have produced a Covid-19 special edition of our bi-annual Food Corp Trend Forecast.

“This update allows us to devise the most targeted strategies and campaign solutions to drive true results for our partners. During this time of change, the food trends identified will allow marketers to align their content marketing strategies with what’s driving consumer behaviour around food.”

5 KEY TRENDS IDENTIFIED

Back to Basics – Consumers are reinventing the meat and three veg mantra

Australians are reacquainting themselves with their kitchens and getting back to the basics of home cooking. Consumers have stocked the pantry with dry staples and the freezer with meats and frozen veggies as the basis for future basic, simple meals. All types of mince – beef, pork and chicken – are seeing uplifts across search terms and recipe collections on the Food Corp sites. Pantry essentials such as flour, baking powder, dry and wet sugars are also being called upon during this time, as consumers are searching for classic, basic baking recipes. As budgets tighten even further, home cooks will want to reduce the risk of failure and stick to basics.

The ‘Nana’ Revival – When the going gets tough, the tough ask Nana

In times of uncertainty Australians are taking inspiration from the one person who knows what to do when supplies are scarce. Nana’s wisdom around ingredients is resonating – simple foods are best for your health, your budget and your family. Old style sweet baking recipes that Nana used to make are on the rise as people seek comfort in the known, tried and tested. Sweet and dessert content is accounting for 50% of the top performing recipes on taste.com.au and Australia’s Best Recipes. DIY bread and pasta are trending as people have more time to make these things from scratch or can’t go to the shops to buy them.

Making Do – Making do with what money you have and ingredients you have

With a lack of readily available supplies, consumers are being resourceful, creating their own products from DIY hand sanitiser to bread. This is a critical time for consumers to ensure overstocked pantry ingredients are getting maximum usage and for brands to show full flexibility and potential of products. The multiple ways that products can be used has never been more potent, especially if it is a food product that can be used in myriad of ways beyond dinner or the kitchen such as bath bombs and playdough for kids.

The Bright Side – Keep calm and carry on in the kitchen

Staying positive is the core ingredient in the recipe to success when it comes to staying calm during times of uncertainty. Right now, there’s nothing as powerful as cooking and baking to offer solace, comfort, stress-relief, and the sensory delights needed to take the mind off anxiety and concerns.

The Quarantini – When your spirit might be shaken, but not stirred

With social-isolation virtual parties on the rise, different adaptations of popular cocktails are being introduced such as the Quarantini, Aper-solo Spritz which serves one in isolation, the Long Iso-lation Iced Tea and the Lonely Mary. Overall, gin is still dominating delicious. drinks content as well as articles around bottle shop restrictions.

FOOD CORP HEALTH INDEX (March 2020 year-on-year)

Health as a category is not as high on the consumer priority list – in particular the specific diets and low fat terms have lost share.

Vegetarian continues to perform strongly as people look to create nourishing options not necessarily linked to a diet. Mexican vegetarian was a strong performer in the past two weeks for example.

Immunity and defence related terms have grown significantly and represent an opportunity for products that can claim to boost these.

Health Insight:

Health related search terms have declined across the board as specialised diets such as Low Carb, Keto and Sugar Free are seen as non-essential during this time.

However, the term Immunity is over performing as consumer focus shifts to protecting themselves and their family during these times. 

“Health has not gone away. The focus has just moved to survival for now. Things like making sure there will be dinner are taking precedence. It’s time to pivot health content and messaging to suit the times,” said Brodee Myers-Cooke editor-in-chief of taste.com.au and Australia’s Best Recipes.

FOOD CORP TOP 15 RECIPES (March 2020 year-on-year)

Simple, classic and easy are the leading recipes right now.

Sweets and desserts are all rising – with less opportunity to treat themselves or their families right now this is a necessary indulgence.

Zucchini slice, which consistently sits at number one, has been knocked back to third place by banana bread up +94% and basic scones +155%.

Recipe Themes:

‘CLASSIC’ – appearing twice in Top 15
‘BASIC’ – recipes feature twice in Top 5
‘EASY’ – recipes feature three times in Top 15

Movers & Shakers (outside of Top 15):

Very Creamy Potato Bake – up to #21 from #379
Quick Mix Chocolate Cake – up to #39 from #144
Creamy Chicken Risoni Tray Bake – up to #46 from #141
Damper – up to #55 from #211

FOOD CORP TOP 15 SEARCH TERMS (15-31 March 2020 year-on-year)

Chicken continues to hold the number one position.

Huge rises across a number of search terms with baking and sweets all performing incredibly well, mince enters the Top 15, bread jumps straight in at number nine up +273% and pumpkin soup is growing at a phenomenal +274%.

As people are cooking more meals than usual, it is expected search volumes will continue to rise and terms will develop as consumers exhaust their standard recipe repertoire.

Search Themes:

BAKING/SWEET – eight out of Top 15 searches
BREAD – enters Top 15 for the first time
BANANA – appearing three times in Top 15

Movers & Shakers (outside of Top 15):

Rump Steak – up to #76 from #112
Thickened Cream -up to #77 from #155
Sour Cream – up to #91 from #160
Tomato Sauce – up to #191 from #297
Lentils – up to #208 from #299

Food Corp holds the top three websites in the Food category in Australia. taste.com.au has a unique audience of 4.1 million +16.4% month-on-month; Australia’s Best Recipes has a unique audience of 1.19 million, growing +11.7% month-on-month; and delicious.com.au has a unique audience of 1.17 million, +41.3% month-on-month*.

Through Food Corp’s digital and social channels 80 million data points^ are generated every day providing real-time information on what Australian’s are planning, shopping, cooking and sharing in food. The Trend Forecast then overlays this data with the lens of the company’s senior editorial food experts to uncover the trends, turning data into actionable insights.

Source: *Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, Monthly Tagged, March 2020, Text, People 2+, Census. ^Adobe Analytics, October 2019-March 2020

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