Cool Jobs


November 26, 2013

Food-trends analyst Julie Mumford's cool job

Food-trends analyst Julie Mumford's cool job

Julie Mumford is a senior business-intelligence analyst at Allrecipes in Seattle. (Courtesy of Allrecipes)

What do you do? I’m on Allrecipes’ Business Intelligence team, analyzing food trends in real time. The primary data source is our extensive web-analytics platform that allows us to ask incredibly detailed questions about chicken -- or any other edible ingredient you can think of. With more than 1 billion visits annually, there is a lot of data.

By using our web data to track what works and what doesn’t, we try to delight our community without having to ask them what they want.

How did you choose that field? Before "big data" became a buzzword, the Allrecipes team had the foresight to invest in robust data-capturing tools before those products were profitable. The smart folks here ask off-the-wall questions, and aren’t afraid to sit with the unknown.

What’s a typical day like? I spend the bulk of each day analyzing how millions of people make dinner decisions for their families and then communicating those trends to our partners. It’s an intimate opportunity to virtually go to the grocery store with our audience each week.

My favorite time is early January, [when] suddenly people are interested in spinach recipes. By the time the Super Bowl rolls around, spinach is way off the list and people are looking for the ultimate cheese ball recipe.

The most valuable data are the millions of candid reviews from home cooks. On average, our community rates a recipe every 50 seconds! All that advice has shaped the new Allrecipes magazine -- it includes only the best recipes that are made even better by tips from home cooks.

What’s the best part of the job? For all of us working in cubicles, it’s easy to lose track of what’s happening outside the window and across the country. I get to be very connected with the weather and the seasons. I even get a sneak peek when Costco finds a new deal. The Allrecipes data from cities with a Costco store will light up with a burning desire to know, “How do I cook swai fish?”

What surprises people about the job? People are surprised by how much of our world can be explained through food data -- the weather being an example. Instead of a thermometer, watch web traffic to zucchini bread recipes -- the hotter the summer, the earlier the zucchini bread shows up. Last year’s drought drove up corn prices, which drove up the price of beef, which meant meatloaf popularity plateaued last winter. I can always tell when a Southern city gets a freak winter storm -- searches for “snow cream” go through the roof as parents figure out what to do with their kids on a rare South Carolina snow day.

--NWjobs staff

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