Facebook data show growing interest in health, global cuisines La_vanda/iStock/Getty Images Plus
References to tiropita, a Greek egg-and-cheese dish, increased 1.5 times.

Facebook data show growing interest in health, global cuisines

Report looks at topics gaining ground in social media

Overheard social media conversations indicate that concern about food’s healthfulness and interest in multicultural foods are on the rise, according to Facebook IQ, the marketing research division of the popular social media site Facebook Inc. 

In Facebook IQ’s second annual “Topics and Trends Report,” released Tuesday, the social media platform looked at conversations that are growing louder, including those around updated versions of soul food and, especially for families with younger children, an influence of international ingredients.

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Facebook IQ found a more than seven-fold increase in mentions of calabaza, a West Indian pumpkin.

The research group found global cuisine and flavors getting attention, with a third of families indicating their children enjoy multicultural foods.

For example, Facebook IQ found a more than seven-fold increase in mentions of calabaza, a West Indian pumpkin. Mentions of caldo de pollo, or Mexican chicken soup, increased 9.6 times and references to tiropita, a Greek egg-and-cheese dish, increased 1.5 times during the observation period, which was from January 2017 to October 2018.

Last year, the first year the report was released, the platform indicated a growing interest in chicken feet, a protein source that didn’t catch much fire in mainstream restaurants.

Social conversations were also highlighting healthy food, Facebook IQ report said.

“Focused on flavor, people are working to make healthy foods taste as good as classic favorites, replacing elements of traditional cuisines with health-conscious alternatives,” the report noted. “Among the cuisines being revamped on a grand scale, soul food is getting some major attention from healthy eaters working to emulate rich, soul-warming dishes.”

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Mentions of caldo de pollo, or Mexican chicken soup, increased 9.6 times.

Facebook IQ found soul food mentions increased 11.8 times in the past year. Healthy alternatives included pork and beans that used jackfruit or smoked turkey, a substitution that saw mentions increase 1.6 times. Using smaller amounts of brown sugar was mentioned 3.7 times more often, and references grew toward leaner preparations of vegetables, such as collard greens.

Flavors getting increased mentions included turmeric, kimchi and eucalyptus, the last of which doubled in mentions over the past year, the report noted.

Bread, which many carbohydrate-concerned diners had been taking off their plates, was getting new interest, the Facebook IQ report noted.

“Food start-ups are generally raising awareness that not all bread is bad,” the report noted. “It’s the overly processed, sugar- and preservative-laden varieties that have proven problematic for many diet plans.”

“In turn, alternative flours have seen a rise in interest, as people have become more interested in spelt, rice flour, popular earlier this year, and even ancient grains, such as einkorn wheat,” the researchers found. Conversations around einkorn wheat, for example, expanded by 2.6 times, the report found.

The trend outlook found a growing interest in conversations around baking in general. Processes such as “slow carb baking,” using natural fermentation of grains, were being noticed among social-media users.

“Conversation about crust is on the rise,” the report noted.

At the end the third quarter, Facebook had 2.27 billion monthly active users.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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