Hover your mouse over the chart above to reveal more details on each trend line.
IF summer is the time of backyard barbecues and outdoor eating, why do meat-related online searches spike in winter?
Google Trends is a tool that allows you to compare the popularity of worldwide search terms and trends over time.
For example, type in the words ‘beef’, ‘chicken’, ‘pork’ and ‘lamb’ from 2004 to now, and a distinct seasonal trend is evident in the resulting chart (above).
Aside from documenting the ongoing growth that is occuring in search volumes for meat of all types, and chicken in particular, the chart shows that worldwide online searches for chicken, beef and pork peak in January, the heart of winter in the northern hemisphere, where 90 percent of the world’s population live.
A similar chart highlights the same seasonal trend in Australia, where the peaks for online meat searches generally occur in July – the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere:
Lamb (shown by the green line) is the only clear exception to the winter dominant trend, with online searches for lamb surging in April. Many religions have rituals of eating lamb to mark the spring growing season.
What’s behind the higher volume of search terms for meat in winter instead of summer?
Some researchers say cooler weather triggers an evolutionary relic inside us to eat more and ‘fatten up’ to survive tough environmental conditions, the way many other animals do.
New York dietician Laura Cipullo, for example, has argued that cooler temperatures, fewer daily hours and more time spent inside during winter triggers biological changes that make us more inclined to eat more, and more energy-dense foods.
Another likely reason for more meat related searches in winter is the more complex nature of meat dishes eaten in winter compared to summer.
Cooking in the warmer months often involves little more than whacking a few steaks and snags or chicken pieces on the barbie.
Winter meals on the other hand usually involve more multi-layered cooking stages and more sophisticated recipes.
This theory is underlined by the list of the most common beef related search terms on Google over the past 15 years.
Searches for beef have been dominated by specific terms related to recipes for ‘comfort food’ type beef meals more common to winter like stews, casseroles, roasts and slow-cooker meals:
The most common Google searches for beef 2004-2017
- beef stew recipe slow cooker
- how long to cook roast beef
- beef brisket slow cooker
- beef ragu
- beef bourguignon slow cooker
- beef tagine
- beef jerky outlet
- i smell like beef – (a You Tube video of a little girl repeating this line over and over)
- chaps pit beef – (A famous beef bbq franchise based in in Maryland, US)
- Buona beef menu – (Buona Beef is a Chigago based Italian Beef restaurant chain)
- how to make beef stroganoff
- how to make beef stock
- best beef stroganoff recipe
- beef buddies
- things to make with ground beef
The most common beef related queries 2004-2017:
- Beef recipe
- Beef roast
- Beef recipes
- Ground beef
- Stew beef
- Corned beef
- Slow cooker beef
- Beef stroganoff
- Beef steak
- Beef jerky
- Beef soup
- Ground beef recipes
- How to cook beef
- Beef brisket