5 alternative food trends to add to your plate

By Leia Reid and Kim Wu
Saturday, 10 April 2021

You can always count on food to bring people together. And Twitter is the place where people go to talk about their passions and interests, especially when it comes to good eats.

We teamed up with Brandwatch, a pioneering digital consumer intelligence company, to uncover top consumer trends around food alternatives by looking at share of voice. To do this, Brandwatch observed a random smaller sample (33%) of the overall conversation on Twitter from 2019 to 2020.  Read on for the top consumer trends they’re picking up around food alternatives.

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01 #TrendyDiets

As veganism and vegetarianism continue to dominate online conversations, two trends within these categories have surfaced: eating for awareness and eating for a higher purpose. These purpose-driven trends are priming consumers to look for ways they can take responsibility for the impact of their food choices.

Eating for awareness is seen in popular trends like Veganuary, which encouraged people to commit to veganism for the month of January. And considering everyone loves a good challenge, Veganuary commanded attention.

Eating for a higher purpose cropped up throughout popular discussions on Twitter, as users challenged each other to think beyond the individual by choosing a vegan diet to help reduce our carbon footprint.

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02 #MindfulMilk

Alternative options for milk are extremely popular and include a wide range of choices for consumers. But what about them is driving interest?

To a large extent, the discussions around dairy alternatives have a lot to do with sustainability – but not in the way you might expect. In fact, conversations have surfaced environmental concerns within the alternatives themselves, revealing both interest and debate.

In that context, one milk alternative has pulled away from the pack. Oat milk saw the largest growth in online discussions (an increase of 66% YoY). Meanwhile, other milk alternatives have maintained some relevance, gaining traction in commentary around hugely popular recipes like overnight oats.

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03 #MeatlessMeat

When it comes to choices around meat substitutions, trends like #MeatlessMondays are leaving plenty on the bone.  Consumers can now enjoy a variety of meat alternatives while enjoying favorite snacks like jerky, crisps, and more. In fact, popular meat-free ingredients like tofu, jackfruit, seitan, tempeh, and pea protein have even made their way into beloved desserts like brownies. Pea protein in particular has seen a 42% increase YoY in its share of voice.

And as meatless meal options are proliferating, they’re also speeding up—which is to say that fast food outlets are talking up their own branded meat alternatives, offering new vegan and vegetarian options to mainstream markets.

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04 #SuperFoods 

Superfoods are healthy ingredients packed with vitamins, minerals, and plenty to talk about on Twitter. Everyone already loves avocados, a superfood powerhouse, which is now almost an essential ingredient to premium salads, tacos, and (of course) toast.  Blueberries were often included in conversations surrounding cakes, oatmeals, and pancakes. Meanwhile,  ginger, kale, chia, matcha, and acai berries were mentioned around juicing.

In short, superfoods have shown supergrowth. Take flax, for example, whose share of voice has seen an increase of 991% year over year! Other options like matcha have grown by 74% compared to last year.

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05 #CrunchyCravings

No food discussion would be complete without a bag of chips, and chips are seeing a rise in popularity too.

Vegetable and legume-based crisps like lentils, kale, and sweet potato have some major buzz. Air fryers are currently in the spotlight, which are becoming known for their ability to make delicious kale chips. Their overall share of voice went up 24% year over year.

The benefits of rice crackers have become a popular topic too, with a share of voice that went up 19% year over year.

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Food brings people together and so does Twitter. Like a good meal, it’s a space for passion, where people get to the heart of what matters. With Brandwatch Consumer Research, we can learn from the conversation to better inform products, launches, and more, giving brands and marketers an edge.

To learn more, head to partners.twitter.com to download the full trend report.

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Leia Reid

‎@iseeleia‎

Data Journalist

Kim Wu

‎@kimwu‎

Partner Marketing