Ingredient prices are spiking, and food trends may be the culprit. The dramatic surge in popularity of viral food trends like avocado toast, rainbow bagels, and most recently, unicorn toast and Unicorn Frappuccinos, has launched a remarkable upsurge in the ingredients’ prices. Food trends as broad as clean eating are also likely contributing to these price increases. The rise of cauliflower rice and cauliflower pizza crusts have caused record prices of the vegetable, clocking the highest in February 2017. With avocados leading in price spikes—more than double in the last year with no evidence of letup—it’s clear that our collective penchant for Instagrammable food trends could be the reason for our massive grocery bills.
A study conducted by Bloomberg blames hipsters for the price of avocados, cream cheese, cauliflower, and vanilla. Mastermind of the infamous Unicorn Frappuccino Starbucks has also recorded bloated profits recently, owing the majority of their success to the hot pink drink. While it seems unlikely that bearded Brooklynites in search of pastel blue and pink-swirled cream cheese on bread are the sole subculture fueling national price surges, it’s clear that social media is the driving influencer of what people eat and buy. When Delish recorded popular food trends of the past 40 years, it deemed 2016’s as simply “viral food.” Calling to mind the social politics of the middle school lunch table, where the only thing I wanted was whatever Lunchable my friends had, milkshakes that are piled so high with toppings they reach one’s mouth from the table or mystical creature-flavored toasts aren’t even especially good to eat. Their popularity is fueled solely by their looks.
While Bloomberg notes that cream cheese has risen in price over the last year by 31 percent, and Starbucks’s capitalization on food trends has led to record profits, I refuse to believe this is a no-brakes situation. Indeed, we as consumers and media junkies are slaves to food trends, but we also have the power to create the next best thing on Instagram. If the price spikes in avocados, cream cheese, vanilla, and cauliflower are directly correlated to what folks on social media find cool, to save ourselves from demise (or at least from bankruptcy) we may just need to change the conversation—even one Instagram at a time.