Founded by former Google executive Alon Chen and Eyal Gaon, Tastewise analyzes billions of food data points gathered from social media, restaurant menus, and home recipes, to provide real-time insights of the top trending ingredient shaping the food and beverage landscape.
"With Tastewise what we really do is look at consumers and find new ways to understand what people are eating and drinking and do it in real time,” Chen previously told FoodNavigator-USA in our Soup-to-Nuts podcast.
In its report, Tastewise spotlights several trending ingredients that have grown double to triple digits in consumer engagement via online mentions across various social and digital platforms.
2019 ushers in the era of next level functional foods
The pursuit of wellness and functional foods is stronger than ever as evidenced by consumers' quest for products featuring specific functional ingredients and making specific health claims, noted Tastewise.
According to the report, one of out of every three food conversations centers on the functionality of food.
"Consumers want to know what benefits their food will afford them — will it improve gut health? Promote healthier skin? Increase focus? — and make their choices accordingly. In the past year we saw 23% increase in the number of people that discussed the wellness related functions detailed in this report. Understanding these functions and how they interact with ingredients offers a developmental, economic, and marketing edge to in-the-know F&B companies," noted Tastewise.
Among the top wellness-related functions that received the most consumer engagement and interest, were products/ingredients associated with weight loss, general wellness, energy, stress relief, focus, brain health, anti-aging, and skincare.
Tastewise found that 37% of consumers are using food as a functional tool to reach their health goals with antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, weight loss, energy boost or gut health goals being particularly important.
Ingredient deep dive: CBD, pea protein, and celery juice
According to Tastewise, CBD is seeing a significant rise in consumption for improved gut health (+286%), sleep (+201%), energy (+70%), and to improve the immune system(+138%).
"CBD has come a long way from its original, primary application against stress; today’s CBD offers a host of potential health benefits including digestive health (up 268% in social mentions in the last year), anti-inflammation, pain management and more. Additionally, consumers take CBD in various forms to improve immunity, increase energy, and support good sleep," claimed the Tastewise report.
Tangentially, hemp oil has seen a 925% increase in consumer engagement and mentions with consumers turning to hemp oil for claims of stress reduction.
Pea protein is seeing growing popularity in consumers' pursuit of general wellness goals.
"Pea protein, typically consumed as a neutral-flavored powder, is finding new popularity; mentions of the protein in connection with wellness are up 542% in the past year," noted Tastewise.
Mentions of celery grew by 187% in the past year with the herb being linked to reducing water weight, easing arthritits, lowered blood pressure, and decreasing cortisol to general cleansing and detoxifying claims.
"The bulk of purported benefits lie in the long term. Consumers use celery juice overtime to promote weight loss (consumer mentions of weight loss and celery juice in the last year are up 209%)," said Tastewise.