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The Global Food Industry: The Skinny on Cooking- and Recipe-Sharing Apps

Someone looking up a recipe on their tablet like a chump

In decades past, old recipes were cataloged in binders, wooden boxes, or ear-marked pages within magazines. But with digitization and the Internet, this rapidly changed. Suddenly, cooking classes and competitions with celebrity chefs were being streamed. Internet forums where foodies shared their favorite dishes exploded. And most recently, recipe apps have boomed, with many having millions of followers. For those who enjoy cooking at home, tens of thousands of recipes can be quickly searched to satisfy one’s cravings. And even better, these cooking apps are introducing new cuisines to people across the globe.

Cultural Variations in Consumer Recipe Needs

In the U.S., food preparation has become an entertainment industry. Celebrity chefs have their own networks and competitions, with millions of viewers watching. As a result, many Americans who enjoy cooking more complex meals tune into these shows. Others prefer the convenience of eating something quick, like a frozen meal popped in the microwave. And of course, many simply choose to have their meals delivered, given the increase in food delivery options. (Read more about the tectonic shift in food delivery services in this Bold story.) Therefore, cooking apps in the U.S. are often geared for those who prefer practical, easy recipes. These types of recipe apps tend to get the most attention in this country.

However, this is not necessarily the case in other areas of the world. For example, Cookpad is among the most popular recipe apps globally despite being infrequently used in the U.S. It was launched in Japan in 1997 with a focus on authentic, Japanese cuisine. Since that time, it has expanded into 76 overall countries offering diverse, region-specific dishes. Given that other cultures want cooking apps that celebrate their unique cuisines. Cookpad has become quite popular. In fact, it has over 100 million visitors each year to its site. In celebrating diversity, Cookpad has tapped into a completely different market for recipe apps that lacks appeal in the U.S.

Social Sharing and Videos Rule

While cultural diversity certainly exists when it comes to cooking apps, some things are commonly shared. For one, those seeking recipe apps often enjoy watching others prepare the dishes. This is especially popular on social platforms like TikTok and Instagram where some specific recipes have gone viral. In fact, TikTok recently partnered with Whisk, which is one of he more recent recipe apps launched in 2019. Whenever users post a recipe video in TikTok, they have the option to add a “see full recipe” button. This then lets viewers go to a Whisk recipe within the TikTok platform to review ingredients and instructions. These types of partnerships between social media platforms and cooking apps will likely expand in coming years.

Other features that seem appealing to those using cooking apps is the ability share and connect with others. Several of the recipe apps now have this feature, allowing users to comment on their own experience. Likewise, some sites let users pin recipes to community boards or easily send directly to friends and family. In fact, Cookpad embraced this as a key aspect of its recipe platform. The vast majority of those posting recipes on Cookpad are not celebrities, social media influencers, or even professional chefs. Most are simply people who enjoy cooking at home and want to share with others. The organic and authentic aspect of this is why some prefer Cookpad to other cooking apps available.

Someone cooking chicken from their smartphone
The global food industry continues to expand, with recipe-sharing apps bringing cuisine know-how into homes.

Top Cooking Apps on the Market Today

Cookpad is one of the most-used recipe apps in the world today, but in actuality, many others exist. Some are more popular with a higher number of users. Others are smaller and serve a niche area. In the process, several are enjoying success given the diversity of those seeking cooking apps. And with the increased access to ethnic foods everywhere, these recipe apps will continue to be in high demand. The following a just a few of the other popular ones on the market today.

  • Allrecipes Dinner Spinner – Perhaps the largest of the recipe apps on the market is Allrecipes. They boast over 50,000 dinner recipes and are available in 200 countries. From easy to complicated, their recipes cover a vast array of cuisines. Likewise, they offer detailed instructions, ingredient lists, reviews, and much more for users.
  • Whisk – One of the more recent cooking apps to the industry, Whisk has gained ground through partnerships. In addition to TikTok, they also partner with Amazon, Walmart, Kroger and Instacart to assist users with grocery shopping. They are already reporting over 1.5 million interactive users per month.
  • Yummly – This recipe platform offers access to over 2 million recipes on a variety of web-based devices. In addition to allowing users to filter recipes by food allergies and preferences, it also learns user preferences. Therefore, the longer you use Yummly, the better it becomes at recommended your preferred meals to cook.
  • Paprika – With many recipe apps, a few inconveniences may exist like metric conversions and dimming of the screen after a delay. Paprika minimizes these inconveniences, which is why many users enjoy cooking their meals. It also lets users interact with its interface by crossing off tasks or items along the way.
  • Big Oven – Like Cookpad, Big Oven also tends to have many recipes listed from at-home cooks rather than professionals. In addition, Big Oven lets you scan handwritten family recipes to your app. With over 350,000 recipes available, many users are finding this cooking app is ideal for them.

A Variety of Recipe Apps from Which to Choose

As with many industries today, the recipe-sharing community is rather diverse in their preferences. Some individuals seek recipes apps that provide practical, convenient ways to prepare meals at home. Others prefer cooking apps that allow them to challenge themselves and expand their culinary talents. And still others want to find recipes that offer them a taste of their native culture and cuisine. This diversity among the users of recipe apps has allowed many different cooking apps to thrive in the marketplace. Depending on one’s preference, there’s pretty much something for all.


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