As leaves start to clutter the floor there’s no denying it: autumn is well and truly with us. But with the darker evenings and yellowing leaves comes another autumnal trend; an increase in pumpkin, salted caramel, and other autumnal-themed items filling the shelves (and additionally Google’s search engine). We’ve taken a look at emerging trends that are likely to impact upon the FMCG market this autumn through the lens of Google Search Trends; by examining what is searched for and when, an insight can be gained into the popularity of these delicious autumnal treats.
Salted Caramel is an autumnal trend that’s grown year on year since it first made its mass-market debut in 2008. Previously the reserve of French gourmet restaurants, the salty treat was brought into the mainstream by Haagen-Dazs’ salted caramel ice cream and Starbucks’ salted caramel hot chocolate. Despite initial doubts that the salty-sweet combination would be too strange for most consumers, the trend has gained traction with a huge variety of products being developed, including salted caramel crisps, green tea, and even vodka. A quick look at this graph from Google Search Trends shows this steady year on year growth, with peaks emerging each autumn.
Pumpkin spice has become a force of nature in the food world. Despite claims from food gurus that the trend would be finished come 2015, this has not been the case, with Google searches (and sales) continuing to rise. Such is the power of the pumpkin spice trend that sales of pumpkin flavour foods have overtaken those of actual pumpkins. Commentators have suggested that the flavour’s popularity stems from offering a ‘mid-way’ between strange and conventional flavours, offering consumers a way to try something new without stepping too far out of their comfort zone. Despite the flavour’s increasing popularity it has been subject to significant mockery, with comedian John Oliver condemning pumpkin spice lattes as ‘The coffee that tastes like a candle’. Regardless of whether this is true or not, pumpkin spice has become an autumn staple for many.
Traditionally a Christmas dish, roasted chestnuts have been seen on the streets as early as October. Believed to have originated in 16th century Rome, where vendors sold the treat on the streets (much as they do today), other origin stories suggest the dish was used to celebrate St. Martins’ day in Portugal or St. Simon’s Day in Italy. Although roasted chestnuts haven’t inspired the same number of peculiar dishes as salted caramel and pumpkin spice, there’s still a fair few (such as chestnut liqueur). A quick look at Google Trends reveals that while the dish is still popular, interest in roasted chestnuts has been in decline from its heyday in 2007. The apparent decline of roasted chestnuts suggests that no food trend can last forever. Will salted caramel and pumpkin spice lattes soon be replaced by another delicious autumnal delicacy?