You may have noticed some empty shelves at the grocery store lately. But they aren’t necessarily a result of a supply chain issue. It turns out, social media may be to blame for some of these current food shortages. Because some viral TikTok recipes have been hitting certain ingredients pretty hard.
As Seen On TikTok
TikTok trends are becoming quite impactful in the world of food—especially at the local supermarket. Take, for instance, the case of food blogger Emily Mariko and her “best lunch of the week” video.
She posted a clip on September 21, 2021, that featured her smashing up cooked salmon and topping it with leftover sushi rice and an ice cube before creatively steaming it in the microwave. Mariko topped it off with a mix of sriracha, soy sauce, and Kewpie mayonnaise, added half an avocado, and ate it with seaweed squares.
That video received more than seven million views and counting. Within five days after her post, Google search trends for Kewpie mayo had quadrupled. People flocked to their local grocery store. Major retailers, like Walmart, were reporting outages. Journalists were writing articles about Kewpie mayonnaise. According to Eater, the condiment reached “celebrity status.”
The Feta Effect
As the Michigan Daily noted, “the recent rise of food trends originating from TikTok is different from the trends of the past.” The videos tend to highlight food that is cooked instead of purchased. This means it can be made by anyone—even the Gen Z youngsters out there.
The food trends that go the most viral on the platform usually feature just a handful of simple ingredients that are accessible to everyone. And, even a kitchen novice can master them.
Mariko’s video is just the latest in a line of TikTok food videos that have caused food shortages in stores. Another huge TikTok food trend in 2021 was oven-baked feta pasta from Jenni Häyrinen. Even I got caught up in the “TikTok Feta Effect” and found myself buying a block of feta cheese.
“When TikTok makes some new recipe go viral, the first most responsive way to fulfill that demand is through safety stock,” Professor James R. Bradley told Eater. “If the TikTok trends are significant enough, that safety stock is gone.”