Last year, young consumers’ relationship with food changed drastically. In the wake of COVID, everything from food preferences to diet routines saw significant shifts as Gen Z and Millennials sought comfort in the kitchen and changed their habits to be home-focused. But we also found that their passion around food actually grew. Rather than tiring of cooking at home, they turned to food as a creative outlet, a stress reliever, and more. In fact, the number of young consumers who say they consider themselves a foodie increased from 52% in 2019 to 62% in 2020.
So what are these food-focused young consumers eager to eat? In our latest food trends survey, we asked 13-39-year-olds, “What is the biggest food trend you’ve been interested in recently?”
Here are their top answers:
Biggest Food Trend They’ve Been Interested In
- TikTok pasta / TikTok recipes
- Vegan / Vegetarian
- Baking bread / desserts
- Healthy food
- Keto / Low carb diet
- Cooking at home
- Pasta recipes
- Plant-based food
In 2019, the healthy Keto/low carb diet topped the list. In 2021, it’s clear a year of comfort eating and spending more time on social media has made its mark: TikTok pasta/TikTok recipes top this year’s list of food trends that Gen Z an Millennials are interested in. In case you missed it, TikTok pasta is one of the most recent recipes to go viral thanks to the app. The dish is made from cherry tomatoes, olive oil, pasta, and of course, feta cheese—and many users have been going “gaga” over how simple it is to make. The original dish, UuniFetaPasta, is reportedly a phenomenon in Finland, but young people have been referring to it as “TikTok Pasta.” According to The Washington Post, the baked feta pasta dish started going viral on the app after user @grilledcheesesocial (who has 53.7K followers) shared a video of herself making it, garnering millions of views. In 2019, the dish was so popular that it allegedly led to a feta shortage in Finland when it first came on the scene, and some users claimed on social media that they saw shortages in grocery stores across the U.S. too. The hashtag #fetapasta increased from 393 million views in February to 870 million views today, while #tiktokpasta went from 19.5 million views in February to 67 million today.
Of course, TikTok Pasta is only one of the latest viral dishes born on the app, and some respondents simply said they were interested TikTok recipes in general. Food trends spread like wildfire on TikTok during quarantines—from Dalgona coffee to cloud bread. Research found that 44% of young people have cooked a recipe that was going viral on social media. And just last week, even more TikTok food trends were being debated online.
TikTok recipes are usually. about fun twists on known ingredients, and show a clear desire among young consumers for accessible but fun cooking projects. But the fact that respondents specified TikTok as the place where recipes are being discovered is also significant. 41% of young consumers—and 60% of Gen Z—say TikTok is the platform where trends are created.
As mentioned, there is plenty of evidence on the list that young people have turned to comfort food more in the last year, with pizza second on the list and baking break/desserts number four. But there are plenty of healthy trends they’re interested in as well, from vegetarian/vegan dishes to plant-based meat, and the general “healthy food” response. These trends have not gone away, they’re just more likely to be trending alongside some less good-for-you dishes.