Winter barbecues? Google searches for meat spike in the colder months

James Nason, April 30, 2018

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, snags, chops or wings 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 lamb related search terms over the past 15 years beef related search terms on Google over the past 15 years, with lamb roasts and slow-cooked lamb featuring prominently.


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