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Thought Leadership

Food & Drink: February Trends

by Beth Horner

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The shortest month of the year was over in a flash, but there has been plenty going on in the world of food & drink. With two big foodie calendar occasions; Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day, and lot’s more going on there are plenty of trends for us to look at.

February sees the supermarket shelves decked out with copious amounts of chocolate as people scramble for their Valentine’s presents, in amongst the Easter eggs that hit the shelves the second Christmas is wrapped up.

  1. Calendar Occasions Galore

As we’ve said, February boasts two big calendar occasions that for the most part involve food & drink. The first is Valentine’s Day – and whether you’re treating your significant other to a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine or a romantic meal, it’s likely food & drink is somehow involved in your Valentine’s plans. All of the major supermarkets have their own ‘meal deals’ on offer for Valentine’s Day, which proved popular in 2023 given the cost of living crisis on everybody’s mind. This year saw the likes of M&S, Waitrose, Tesco, Co-Op and Aldi with meal deals on offer. Prices ranged from £12-£20 with Aldi being just £2 less than the more premium supermarkets such as M&S and Waitrose.

Research showed that this Valentine’s Day, under a fifth (17%) of people were dining out. And, those who were tended to be millennials (28%) and gen Z (29%) couples. This goes hand-in-hand with predictions for 2023, suggesting that we would see a spike in people dining at home due to the cost of living crisis.

The trend shows that people are more likely to dine out for big occasions if they do chose to. YouGov data revealed that 62% of people surveyed were choosing to say home, and 24% said they will watch movies or TV. However, this does vary by gender, with women (69%) being more likely than men (56%) to say they are staying home on Valentine’s Day.

When it comes to gifts and treats on Valentine’s Day, greeting’s cards remain the most popular gift, followed by chocolate and sweets which 20% of respondents say they bought for Valentine’s Day. That being said, we can still see that baked goods and sweet treats were on the menu this Valentine’s Day with plenty of bakeries and shops selling Valentine’s themed treats!

In contrast, Google searches for Valentine’s Day recipes are lower than the lockdown heights of 2021 and even 2020 and 2019, but does this just mean we’re less romantic? Or, are people searching for recipes elsewhere.

Google Trends chart illustrating peaks and falls of valentine's recipes

TikTok searches for the hashtag #valentinesrecipes were the highest they’ve ever been, with around 1M searches in February itself.

Then, we had Pancake Day – arguably the better of February’s holidays. As with everything, we see Pancake Day getting a little more extreme each year, with all of the weird and wonderful creations people make.

In this article, Ocado’s food expert gave her recommendations on trends to look out for on Pancake Day and they were unconventional to say the least. Cacio e pepe came out as her first prediction and recommendation for pancake toppings and there were plenty more savoury options on the cards , such as Katsu chicken and Kewpie mayo – which has been all the rage on TikTok since 2022 (although, not for pancakes).

It wasn’t just the toppings that took centre stage this year, but instead people came up with interesting pancake style creations driven by TikTok such as ‘pancake cereal’ and ‘pancake spaghetti’.

Another big trend this year was the air fryer pancake – which saw a massive peak in Google searches in February.

google trends chart showing the increase in searches for 'air fryer pancake'

This trend was started when Curry’s shared a TikTok showing how to make pancakes in an air fryer. The trend caused controversy and was a big talking point – even making it onto BBC Newsround where it was debunked! Despite being debunked, the trend really got people talking showing Pancake Day hacks are still a trend brands can jump on.

  1. Alcohol-free drinks are here to stay

The Drinks Business reported that the low and no-alcohol beer category has grown 40% for Tesco in the last two years – driven by the arrival of low and no-alcohol brands such as Freestar, Athletic Brewing and Lucky Saint. Tesco also reported that Christmas 2022 saw the highest demand they had seen for no-alcohol beer which could signify a change in behaviour towards low and no-alcohol products with nearly a third of Britons now saying they do not drink alcohol at all.

Searches for ‘non-alcoholic’ peaked in January 2023, and didn’t tail off as much as in previous years, which clearly signifies an increase in curiosity for low and no-alcohol products.

google trends chart showing the searches for 'non-alcoholic'

This goes hand-in-hand with TikTok trends, which show that more people are interested in a ‘sober-curious’ or ‘damp’ lifestyle that involves less alcohol.

  1. The air fryer surge isn’t going anywhere just yet…

One of the big food trends for 2023 was a focus on time-saving, convenience and simplicity, and alongside that we can see that the demand for air fryers is set to continue. Air fryers first came to the market around five years ago and were originally popular for their convenience and healthy cooking ability – using little-to-no oil and taking far less time to cook than a conventional oven.

However, in the last six to nine months the demand for air fryers has increased even further due to the cost of living crisis. Research from the team at Russell Hobbs revealed that air fryers can save up to 48% on your energy bill compared to a conventional oven so it is no surprise people are jumping on the air fryer trend.*

Google trends data backs up the surge in demand for air fryers and air fryer recipes, with searches for ‘Air Fryer Recipes’ up 102% when compared to February 2022. We can see below that the demand for air fryers continues into 2023, after peaking around the new year.

Google trends chart showing searches for 'air fryer recipes' increasing in 2023

And, it’s not only Google where people are searching for air fryer inspiration, but TikTok also sees a whole host of air fryer recipes and searches. In February alone, searches for #airfryer on TikTok were over 1.2M with people using the app to search for recipe inspiration.

There are many ways that brands can tap into when it comes to trending topics and making sure to stay on top of regularly calendar occasions. For more information on how to tap into the latest trends, get in touch at hello@hatch.group

The shortest month of the year was over in a flash, but there has been plenty going on in the world of food & drink. With two big foodie calendar occasions; Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day, and lot’s more going on there are plenty of trends for us to look at.

February sees the supermarket shelves decked out with copious amounts of chocolate as people scramble for their Valentine’s presents, in amongst the Easter eggs that hit the shelves the second Christmas is wrapped up.

  1. Calendar Occasions Galore

As we’ve said, February boasts two big calendar occasions that for the most part involve food & drink. The first is Valentine’s Day – and whether you’re treating your significant other to a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine or a romantic meal, it’s likely food & drink is somehow involved in your Valentine’s plans. All of the major supermarkets have their own ‘meal deals’ on offer for Valentine’s Day, which proved popular in 2023 given the cost of living crisis on everybody’s mind. This year saw the likes of M&S, Waitrose, Tesco, Co-Op and Aldi with meal deals on offer. Prices ranged from £12-£20 with Aldi being just £2 less than the more premium supermarkets such as M&S and Waitrose.

Research showed that this Valentine’s Day, under a fifth (17%) of people were dining out. And, those who were tended to be millennials (28%) and gen Z (29%) couples. This goes hand-in-hand with predictions for 2023, suggesting that we would see a spike in people dining at home due to the cost of living crisis.

The trend shows that people are more likely to dine out for big occasions if they do chose to. YouGov data revealed that 62% of people surveyed were choosing to say home, and 24% said they will watch movies or TV. However, this does vary by gender, with women (69%) being more likely than men (56%) to say they are staying home on Valentine’s Day.

When it comes to gifts and treats on Valentine’s Day, greeting’s cards remain the most popular gift, followed by chocolate and sweets which 20% of respondents say they bought for Valentine’s Day. That being said, we can still see that baked goods and sweet treats were on the menu this Valentine’s Day with plenty of bakeries and shops selling Valentine’s themed treats!

In contrast, Google searches for Valentine’s Day recipes are lower than the lockdown heights of 2021 and even 2020 and 2019, but does this just mean we’re less romantic? Or, are people searching for recipes elsewhere.

Google Trends chart illustrating peaks and falls of valentine's recipes

TikTok searches for the hashtag #valentinesrecipes were the highest they’ve ever been, with around 1M searches in February itself.

Then, we had Pancake Day – arguably the better of February’s holidays. As with everything, we see Pancake Day getting a little more extreme each year, with all of the weird and wonderful creations people make.

In this article, Ocado’s food expert gave her recommendations on trends to look out for on Pancake Day and they were unconventional to say the least. Cacio e pepe came out as her first prediction and recommendation for pancake toppings and there were plenty more savoury options on the cards , such as Katsu chicken and Kewpie mayo – which has been all the rage on TikTok since 2022 (although, not for pancakes).

It wasn’t just the toppings that took centre stage this year, but instead people came up with interesting pancake style creations driven by TikTok such as ‘pancake cereal’ and ‘pancake spaghetti’.

Another big trend this year was the air fryer pancake – which saw a massive peak in Google searches in February.

google trends chart showing the increase in searches for 'air fryer pancake'

This trend was started when Curry’s shared a TikTok showing how to make pancakes in an air fryer. The trend caused controversy and was a big talking point – even making it onto BBC Newsround where it was debunked! Despite being debunked, the trend really got people talking showing Pancake Day hacks are still a trend brands can jump on.

  1. Alcohol-free drinks are here to stay

The Drinks Business reported that the low and no-alcohol beer category has grown 40% for Tesco in the last two years – driven by the arrival of low and no-alcohol brands such as Freestar, Athletic Brewing and Lucky Saint. Tesco also reported that Christmas 2022 saw the highest demand they had seen for no-alcohol beer which could signify a change in behaviour towards low and no-alcohol products with nearly a third of Britons now saying they do not drink alcohol at all.

Searches for ‘non-alcoholic’ peaked in January 2023, and didn’t tail off as much as in previous years, which clearly signifies an increase in curiosity for low and no-alcohol products.

google trends chart showing the searches for 'non-alcoholic'

This goes hand-in-hand with TikTok trends, which show that more people are interested in a ‘sober-curious’ or ‘damp’ lifestyle that involves less alcohol.

  1. The air fryer surge isn’t going anywhere just yet…

One of the big food trends for 2023 was a focus on time-saving, convenience and simplicity, and alongside that we can see that the demand for air fryers is set to continue. Air fryers first came to the market around five years ago and were originally popular for their convenience and healthy cooking ability – using little-to-no oil and taking far less time to cook than a conventional oven.

However, in the last six to nine months the demand for air fryers has increased even further due to the cost of living crisis. Research from the team at Russell Hobbs revealed that air fryers can save up to 48% on your energy bill compared to a conventional oven so it is no surprise people are jumping on the air fryer trend.*

Google trends data backs up the surge in demand for air fryers and air fryer recipes, with searches for ‘Air Fryer Recipes’ up 102% when compared to February 2022. We can see below that the demand for air fryers continues into 2023, after peaking around the new year.

Google trends chart showing searches for 'air fryer recipes' increasing in 2023

And, it’s not only Google where people are searching for air fryer inspiration, but TikTok also sees a whole host of air fryer recipes and searches. In February alone, searches for #airfryer on TikTok were over 1.2M with people using the app to search for recipe inspiration.

There are many ways that brands can tap into when it comes to trending topics and making sure to stay on top of regularly calendar occasions. For more information on how to tap into the latest trends, get in touch at hello@hatch.group

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