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Food and sustainability: the trends of 2022

Food and sustainability: study of the conversations on social media and on the web

Food has always been one of the most talked about and discussed topics on the web. In recent years, the attention has shifted to the sustainability and nutrition topics, becoming always more of a lifestyle and a symbol of our values.

In the webinar “A talk with Vincos” (held in italian) with Vincenzo Cosenza, we analyzed the conversations on social media and on the web, with an important focus on audiences, to help companies that want to understand and anticipate the needs of consumers, but also discover the strengths and weaknesses of competitors.

User generated content overview 

Food has always been one of the most debated topics on the web. Gradually, a massive exposure of food has also been added through more visual social media, such as Instagram and TikTok.

In recent years, particular attention has been paid to the themes of sustainable food and nutrition as a lifestyle or as a symbol, sometimes a status symbol. That’s why we decided to delve deeper into the conversations, trends and audiences that gather around food and sustainability.

The first overview that emerges is that in the first six months of 2022, the conversations around sustainable food were 178,194. Compared to the last six months of 2021, this is an increase of 143%. The source of the posts is mainly Twitter (89%). Only 9% of the content originates from Instagram and 2% from TikTok.

Twitter content’s analysis

The main topic of discussion is the sustainability in agriculture that emerges from the conversations about products.

Italians need to understand how to eat healthy and in harmony with nature. Often such discussions arise from the relaunch of press reports that ignite the souls of opposing factions. For example, those relating to the topic of biodynamic agriculture which registered a peak in the approval of an amendment to eliminate references to biodynamics from the law on organic agriculture.

By categorizing the posts, it emerges that 80% of them concern sustainable products, 15% the broader theme of sustainable food and trends, while only 3% involve supermarkets and 2% brands.

The most talked about supermarkets, among those considered in the analysis, were found to be NaturaSì and Coop. The first due to a controversy generated in 2021 and continued this year, concerning the decision to also ensure tampons for no-vax employees.

The second, on the contrary, was praised as a supermarket with more organic products.

Who is the online user that talks about sustainable food?

A very interesting aspect that we have investigated thanks to KPI6 technologies is about the audience involved in these conversations. We found that discussions on sustainable food are fairly balanced between men and women, while the peak ages are those in the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups.

It is a public that is very attentive to the topic of food, but also to that of education, current affairs and politics. So we could say, people who love to inform themselves and learn more. It is an audience that uses YouTube a lot, but also Facebook and Instagram. On social media, they love to relate to known people and trusted brands. They are not particularly fascinated by influencers, perhaps because they prefer the recognized expert.

The platform also provides very useful information on personality traits. We are talking about an outgoing and curious audience, with a positive attitude towards life.

Therefore it is an audience sensitive to inspirational and value communication, with a positive and proactive tone of voice. A communication that aims to encourage intellectually stimulating and creative activities.

We wanted to analyze Instagram & TikTok because they have an almost overlapping user base (60% are between the ages of 20 and 35) and a similar visual communication language. Despite this, some evidence emerged in order to address the issue of sustainable food.

The hashtags relating to Italian food, vegan and gluten-free diets stand out. But Instagram is the home of a more refined and international cuisine (porridge, cheesecake, hummus are very common), while TikTok is the place to find simpler foods, street food and trendy dishes (poke, omelette, flat bread).

The contents are also affected, because Instagram tends to inform (cooking tips, recipes, tricks and tips on nutrition, also to dispel myths and false beliefs), while on TikTok the lens used is that of entertainment ( irony about food, quick cooking ideas, experiments)

This difference can probably be explained by a very different composition of content creators. For some time now, there have been pro and semi-pro food creators on Instagram, as well as well-known chefs. For example, Benedetta Rossi and Cucina Botanica stand out on the topics in question, but also the accounts of particular publishers such as Will, Fanpage and Vice Italy.

On Tik Tok, however, there are above all ordinary people and wanna-be creators, still not very well known, such as Errico Porzio (master pizza maker) and Gigi Muraro (passionate about cooking).

A curiosity that emerged from the processing of the data is that while the major cities are, of course, the most cited, going into detail, important countries for Italian food and wine such as Gragnano and Bronte emerge.

Do you want to find out what are the food trends of Italians in the first half of 2022? Within our online event we analyzed and we commented the most appreciated and bought products by Italians, the sentiment towards some issues, the new trends on junk food and healthy lifestyle, with a focus on the perception of the most sustainable brands.

Download the report (in italian) to get a complete overview of our analysis!