Trends of Australian foodies

Year on year trend data from emma tells us about changing food buying patterns and reveals that newspaper food sections reach 5.9m taste makers each month in print and 2.8m via digital media.

What's hot in Food?Every year, dozens of people release their analysis of food trends. Here are some of their predictions for 2014.

–  Making your own sauerkraut, whey & churning your own butter. The trend of home made from-scratch cooking.

–  Fermented fish and pickled peaches are the order of the day according to Good Food.

–  Salmon consumption has doubled in the last 5 years according to taste.com.au.

–  Vegetable consumption is set to decline according to a Weber Shandwick survey where 54% of people said it’s “too difficult to include fruit and vegetables in my meals every day”.

It would be easy to get yourself in a pickle with this smorgasbord of trends. If you find yourself eating home-fermented salmon ceviche this year, but too busy to boil some peas for 2 minutes to go with it, then you’ll be right on-trend.

One of the challenges with these predictions is that they can be very subjective and based on the writer’s personal perspectives.

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

Luckily, if you want to know what’s really happening in food on a macro level, emma captures the shopping behaviours of more than 40,000 consumers. A sample of this huge size provides fine grained sensitivity to changes in shopping behaviour.

Now that emma is a well-established survey, we are able to look at year on year trends in the purchase penetration of more than 70 different food items. It may not measure the rise of fermented fish, but it does pick up the following interesting trends.

Butter whips margarine.

Butter purchase is up from 50.7% to 51.9% (one of the largest rises), while margarine slipped from 44.6% to 41.6% (the single largest drop).

Chips getting chopped

Potato chips fell from 50.6% to 48.9%. Corn chips from 28.2% to 27%. And rice crackers from 30% to 28.9%. All of these are in the top 10 biggest drops.

Fresh not canned

Fresh fish or seafood was in the top 10 increases, up from 42.1% to 42.9%, while canned fish was down from 41.1% to 40.4%.

Likewise, fresh soup in sachets is up from 9 to 9.6%, while canned soup fell from 20.5% to 20.2%.

Frozen is cool

Surprisingly, although canned is on the nose, frozen is ok. Given the finding above that people think it’s too hard to get enough fruit and vegetables in their diet, it’s interesting to see frozen fruit as the biggest increase year on year, from 9.7% to 10.9%. Frozen vegetables nudged ahead from 50.7% to 50.9% while fresh vegetables slipped from 81.7% to 81.4%.

Healthy and herbal

Herbal, green and fruit teas were a notable riser, up from 21% to 21.5%. Muesli stormed ahead from 20.1% to 21.1%.

But it could be the end of the low-fat era: as well as butter whipping margarine, low-fat cheese & low-fat yoghurt both fell (down from 64% to 63.7%; 56.3 to 55.7%), possibly because the attack on sugar has taken some heat off fat.

For all the trends above, we can see that the rises and falls are incremental rather than seismic. It makes more sense to see food trends happening relatively gradually, instead of projecting that because some of your friends are churning their own butter then everyone in Australia is suddenly dressing as a dairy maid and doing the same.

Food media for the rest of us

Even most of us don’t ferment our own fish, people do love to read about food ideas, and newspaper media provide much of the best and widest-reaching content in this space.

Take the food sections of newspapers, such as Good Food, Taste and Fresh. Across the 21 food sections that emma measures, the total monthly readership is a staggering 5.9m people. Of these readers, 77% are equally or mainly responsible for buying food, and 75% are equally or mainly responsible for cooking food.

What’s more, food is an area where print and digital newspaper assets complement each other brilliantly. taste.com.au and goodfood.com.au have 2.8m monthly users between them (Nielsen Mar14), including over 900,000 accessing via mobile and tablet (emma Mar14).

Cross platform case studies

As a result of the above strength in food, we see many food advertisers partner with newspaper media. For example:-

Continental and IGA partnered with News Community Newspapers in their local Taste sections to help mums answer “What’s For dinner?” and had 55% of readers interested in trying one of their recipes.

Coles showed off their special Heston Blumenthal Lemon Myrtle Hot Cross buns with an innovative lemon-scented ad in Fairfax papers. It prompted a huge 67% ad recall, and over a third of the audience saying they intended to visit Coles and buy some.

In summary

To influence everyday Australians and their cooking habits, the food content in newspaper media has huge reach and high engagement from readers.

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