TikTok is no stranger to influencing the food scene. For proof, just look at Little Moons. A viral TikTok video featuring the brand last year sent sales soaring by more than 700% at Tesco alone. Little Moons is now one of the fastest-growing ice cream brands out there, enjoying a near 10-fold boost to its value last year.

Plenty more food posts – albeit less high-profile ones – can be found under #foodtok. Boasting 27 billion views, the hashtag covers everything from the aspirational (a healthy recipe for baked feta orzo) to the comically uninspiring (Jeremy Clarkson eating deep fried peas).

Given that ready-made audience, TikTok’s latest move to sell more food seems a logical next step. Today, the social media brand announced it would include fresh and frozen food in TikTok Shop for the first time. It will mark an expansion beyond the ambient food and drink businesses already available on the platform, such as Crazy Candy Co, Suntory and My Protein, which secured a spot for one of its protein powders among TikTok’s 10 best-selling products during its summer sale.

@crazycandyco_ New Mixes on the Tiktok shop with discounts #picknmix #sweetbags #fyp #candytok #smallbusiness #uk #halalsweets #watermelonsweets #bluesweetmix #jellyfilledsweets ♬ Nooran Sisters DRILL REMIX Prod. Philemon - Philemon

Pasta Evangelists, The Veg Box Company and The Fish Society are some of the first fresh brands to sign up to the platform. Plus, TikTok has pointed to “a huge opportunity for new food brands looking for a springboard to market”. 

If done right, it could present a substantial opportunity. After all, TikTok as a whole is proving an increasing influence on buying habits. By June this year, the #tiktokmademebuyit hashtag had attracted 10.1 billion views. According to a Marketing Week survey this year, 79% of UK TikTok users have discovered new brands through the medium and 54% have purchased a brand as a result.

Live shopping 

Using the TikTok Shop channel, brands will be able to build on this potential with pre-recorded videos and livestreams. The latter, in particular, is worthy of note. At the Shoptalk Europe conference in June, TikTok Shop head of e-commerce operations Patrick Nommensen said the UK live shopping market was forecast to reach $7.3bn by 2023. Although that’s small fry compared with China – where the live shopping market is estimated to be worth $500bn this year – it still represents a substantial and growing opportunity. 

@thesuntorydrinkschannel What's your favourite — orange or original? #lucozade #lucozadeenergy #suntory #energydrink #mybirkin #asseenontiktok #tiktokmademebuyit #fyp ♬ original sound - Charles Gross

What’s more, brands will be able to work with TikTok creators to produce livestreams. This is a crucial element. Somewhat ironically, people don’t go on TikTok Shop to shop. As Nommensen puts it, they want to be “entertained, educated, inspired”. So, brands will likely need the help of creators who know how to make engaging content in this sphere.

Exclusive discounts will offer another way for brands to harness the power of the #foodtok community, TikTok has pointed out.

Brands have high hopes over the sales potential. Pasta Evangelists co-founder Finn Lagun hailed it as “an exciting opportunity to change the face of modern retail”.

Whether the impact will be quite that transformative remains to be seen. But at the very least, it will be a useful testing ground for the growing UK live shopping market – and could well shape the role of food within that sphere.