TikTok is red hot on social media, attracting a new generation of foodies. Videos on the shortform video-sharing app are garnering billions of views, with some driven by trends that are now being harnessed by major players in the food and drink industry.
Exploring how the trends originated and how they blew up to drive marketing and sales today, TikTok UK shared exclusive insights with The Grocer as well as its picks for the top UK foodie creators to watch.
To show how Brits are using the platform to inform their purchasing and cooking decisions, these are five trends that defined autumn 2022 and one trend that wasn’t to be for foodies:
Dairy is among the categories suffering the most inflation, with butter prices in the mults soaring 7.5% in the year to 12 June 2022 [Kantar Worldpanel], while The Grocer’s grocery price tracker shows 500g packs of Lurpak Spreadable cost 31% more (equivalent to a £1.13 price rise on average) than this time last year. It’s making butter something of a luxury item, which could go someway towards explaining why butter boards have overtaken charcuterie boards in popularity on TikTok.
“As with many food trends that we’ve seen go viral on TikTok, the beauty of the butter board is that it is high impact but very easy to replicate,” says Gemma Thornton, retail brand partnerships at TikTok UK.
“Butter continues to be a grocery staple, but the TikTok community has found creative ways to jazz it up into a dinner party feature, taking over from the much-loved charcuterie boards. Whether you make a board using savoury ingredients such a roasted garlic or truffle, or you have more of a sweet tooth and use honey or Biscoff, the possibilities are endless. Anyone can get involved in putting their own spin on the trend.”
@kerrygolduk Elevate the butter board trend with Kerrygold. 💚 What flavour combinations would you try? #kerrygold #kerrygoldbutter #kerrygolduk #foodtok #butter #butterboard #butterboards #butterboardtrend #foodtiktok #recipe #baking ♬ Fast Food Music Backround - ppetru
The surge in interest was led by creators, with London-based professional chef chef Thomas Straker (@thomasstraker) carving out a niche for himself as something of a butter king. His flavoured butter creations include beetroot butter, sobrassada - a Spanish spiced sausage - butter, and chocolate, coffee and salted caramel butter. The experiments have earned him more than 1.6 million followers, host of viral videos and a community of fellow butter enthusiasts who attempt to replicate the recipes and experiment with their own at home.
The popularity of the trend led Waitrose’s social media team to recreate the trend with truffle salt, chives and honey from the retailer’s own label Cook’s Ingredients and Essential ranges. Not to be left out, Kerrygold also capitalised with its video tutorial, in which it puts harissa and roasted cherry tomatoes on the board.
Preparation for the unseasonably warm spooky season got underway in September, with consumers keen to find inspiration. The trend really began to boom in October, with 4.4 million videos with the hashtag #halloweentreats posted in September, increasing to 9.7 million in October - a spike of 120.4%. Similarly #halloweenfood shot up 313% from being attached to 2.3 million pieces of TikTok content in September to 9.7 million pieces in October.
Halloween proved an ideal time for small to medium sized businesses to establish themselves on the platform, with exceptional performers under the #halloweentreats hashtag, such as bespoke chocolate and gifting service Glamberry, which managed to pull in tens of thousands of likes on multiple videos of it creating its skull and ghost shaped cakesicles - a cake and icing mix compacted and covered in chocolate.
@glamberryltd sPoOkY sCaRy SkULL ☠️ #skeleton #skull #halloween #halloweentreats #cakesicletutorial #fyp ♬ original sound - lexie! 🎅🏻❤️
British retailers have long associated Halloween with spice, by listing a host of chilli-heavy limited edition products, with Morrisons unveiling Spicy Fright Feast pizza for Halloween 2022, following the Hellfire hot wings and sausages in years gone by. Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s lists spicy ribs as a Halloween recipe on its website. This trend is showing gradual signs of expansion, with TikTok users across the pond getting excited for a limited edition Ghost Pepper Burger by Burger King.
“Although air fryers have been around for more than a decade, we’ve seen them skyrocket in popularity on TikTok. One TikTok hashtag #AirFryerRecipes has reached 1.8 billion views, showing that what was once a slightly niche kitchen appliance has now grown into a mainstream kitchen staple, leading to a significant uplift in sales,” says Thornton.
According to PriceRunner, top-selling air fryers have risen in popularity by more than 3,000% since this time last year and are up 2,000% since the summer. And with upwards of 7 billion views on various air fryer-related hashtages, British supermakets sat up and took notice.
The figures emboldened Iceland to list 20,000 air fryers itself with the expectation that they would sell out in days. The listing was followed by Iceland posting a series of air fryer recipes.
@icelandfoods Our Air Fry-Up is THE perfect weekend breakfast! 🍳 Cooking in the air fryer saves on your energy bills AND on the washing up! 🧽 #ShopSmartCookSavvy #airfryerrecipes #energysaving #costofliving #fooktok #foodie ♬ original sound - IcelandFoods
New air fryer owners have turned online to inspiration, with ever more recipes cropping up on TikTok from whole chickens, to sandwiches and and eggs. The trend started as a kitchen must-have appliance for those wanting to cook with less oil, ballooning in the particularly Slimming World and Weight Watcher communities before hitting the mainstream.
The key for users now is that air fryers, which are essentially small convection ovens, cost less to run than their larger conventional fan or gas counterparts. Despite looking to save money, the content of the recipes shared on TikTok suggests shoppers refuse to compomise on indulgence.
“The #FoodTok community has not only spread awareness of the benefits of using an air fryer - such as being cost effective and healthy,” Thornton adds. but they have also shared countless creative ways to use it, from steak and chips to cookies.”
Asda’s £1.25 cookie dough has proven particularly popular among those following a trend to create cookies in the air fryer, while others have found it works to reheat food, lauding the devices as “better than a microwave” for keeping food crispy.
@chloeburgess22 Obsessssed 🏻 still learning the buttons but I’ll get there 🥲 🍪 #ninjaairfryer #ninjaairfryerrecipesuk #airfryertiktok #cookies ♬ original sound - Chloe Burgess
ASMR, or automated sensory meridian response, has been a huge part of marketing food to the masses for a long time. From the sizzle and crackle of food cooked on camera, to the hushed tones that tell us what we should want, this M&S ad is a prime example of what ASMR used to mean to many:
Now, the trend has evolved. The videos are shorter, not necessarily made for profit, and can be created by amateurs enabled by the huge increases in mobile phone microphone and camera capabilities.
“ASMR has been a popular trend on TikTok for a while, but only now is it starting to move more prominently onto #FoodTok as creators soundtrack content to the sound of their cooking,” TikTok UK’s Thornton tells The Grocer.
“More recently, we’ve been seeing particularly rhythmic and almost musical content emerging in this space. @notorious_foodie is a great example of how a simple recipe video comes to life with the satisfying sounds of the kitchen.”
@notorious_foodie Braised Beef Cheeks 😍 #easyrecipe #easyrecipes #recipe #beef #asmrfood #recipesoftiktok #cooktok #chef #foodtok #dinnerwithme #redwine #homecook #cookingtiktok #recipesforyou #steak ♬ Days pass - adrianberenguer
With more than 60 million views, this particular video soared above the competition in early November.
That roasted tomato and feta pasta recipe first went viral in 2021 but has now become an evergreen trend.
@feelgoodfoodie Baked feta pasta with cherry tomatoes!! Recipe on blog • Inspired by @grilledcheesesocial 😘 #tiktokpartner #LearnOnTikTok #fetapasta #recipes ♬ original sound - Feel Good Foodie
In its initial phase of massive popularity, Asda created an online bundle so customers could purchase all the ingredients to make the dish with one simple click. Customers in the UK were lucky. Further afield in the US, shoppers searching for the components of the dish reported a shortage of feta in supermarkets.
As a one pan recipe, consumers are very receptive to low effort meals and it has achieved consistent traffic, with 19.4 million views of the #FetaPastaRecipe hashtag. Its continuing popularity and simplicty sees remakes and variations regularly being uploaded to the platform with varying degrees of success, such as this one from September 2022:
@thebutteredgnocchi I’m still personally here for the feta pasta trend😍#feta #pasta #fetapasta #fetacheese #cheese #pastatiktok #pastarecipe #recipe #recipesoftiktok #recipesforyou #foodie #foodietiktok #foodislife ♬ CUFF IT - Beyoncé
The trend that wasn’t
There was one TikTok trend this autumn that revealed a love of food perhaps surpassing any other in this list. That’s the Corn Kid.
@schmoyoho intro song for any meal/snack with corn 🌽 - from iconic interview on @doingthings ♬ It's Corn - Tariq & The Gregory Brothers & Recess Therapy
In the US, the young boy named Tariq was captured waxing lyrical about his love of corn on the cob, which was swiftly remixed into a song, which went viral.
The ensuing publicity prompted Green Giant to join TikTok, with the corn kid fronting of a series of recipe videos for the brand. Fast food outlet Chipotle also jumped on the trend, releasing its own video with an appearance from the Corn Kid.
However, while the Corn Kid’s popularity is immense and the song ended up playing on BBC’s Radio One, TikTok has not seen a notable increase in users displaying their own sweetcorn dishes on the platform.
Five foodie creators to watch as chosen by TikTok
@poppycooks What happens when you add roasted garlic to the 15 Hour Potato? MAGIC! 🤤🥔🧄 #15hourpotato #garlic #potatotiktok ♬ original sound - Poppy O’Toole
AKA “The Potato Queen”, Poppy is a Michelin-trained chef who turned to TikTok when she was furloughed during the pandemic. She went viral with her ‘15-hour potato’ recipe, and its variants that will all appeal to ASMR lovers. The original is still popular on TikTok (#15hourpotato has 83.5M views) and has spilled over to other social platforms.
@chefthombateman Spanish tomato bread. Incredibly simple but incredibly delicious #fyp #cooking #pancontomate #tomato ♬ original sound - Chef Thom Bateman
Posts great ‘budget bangers’ money saving recipes, according to TikTok. The series has seen his content massively increase in popularity since the cost of living crisis.
@cookingbomb This rice recipe should be the trend! So crunchy my circus loved it😄#rice #chinesefood #easyrecipe ♬ BILLIE EILISH. - Armani White
Vivian Aronson has one of the most interesting TikTok food accounts around, says TikTok. Traditional Chinese recipes are Aronson’s speciality and the high production values of her recipe videos makes them even more enticing.
@mealsbymitch Replying to @Jade Silva “bUt MiTcH yOu Ay InClUdEd ThE cOsT oF tHe TaRmAc On ThE rOaDs On YoUr WaY tO tHe SuPeRmArKet” 🧐🤓 #kofta #flatbread #budgetmeals #budgetfood #cheapfood #easyfood #cheapmeals #cheapmeal #mealsbymitch #costofliving #fiver #comfortfood ♬ original sound - Mitch 🥘
AKA “King of Fiver Meals”, Mitch believes people don’t want to mess around with fancy dishes when it comes to cooking at home. The West Midlands native featured on The Grocer’s list of budget foodie influencers to watch earlier this year. He creates easy recipes that can be recreated for those on any budget. His ‘reply to comments’ format has also helped him grow a loyal following.
1.2 million followers
@seemagetsbaked Bazeen has my whole heart. How well did I do? Thank you for the help @NadaElMajriri #bazeen#libya#libyanfoodo#nationaldishsh ♬ lofi and minimalist BGM(325514) - Kazuhi
Seema is a MOB Kitchen food froducer, so already has great foodie credentials, says TikTok. But her ‘around the world in 365’ content (which sees her cook a different national dish every day) has inspired many to step out of their cooking comfort zones and try new dishes. Her ‘Day 67 Libya’ video garnered more than 16 million views.