How the Hungry and Healthy Millennial Influences Food Trends


Have you visited your local grocer recently and noticed more organic, all-natural or gluten-free options populating the shelves? Well, you’re not alone: these products are sprouting up on shelves across the country and as this year’s Fancy Food Show approaches, we've seen plenty of studies highlighting the latest food and beverage trends. With an increasing amount of Millennials making purchase decisions, particularly as they become parents, this group’s influence at point of sale will continue to grow, having a larger impact on what you find on grocery store shelves.

Below are three trends that we believe will have the biggest impact for brands entering the market or repositioning their products:

1. A story behind the label.

Millenials are increasingly concerned with ethical food practices and a desire to understanding food sourcing. JWT Intelligence found that eight in ten Millennials would like to go “behind the scenes” of production to better understand where and how food are being produced.

As new or revitalized brands enter the market, communication and marketing professionals must craft a compelling and honest story about the food producers or farmers in an effort to build trust among younger consumers.

2. Does what you eat say something about your age?

A study from The Center for Culinary Development generational differences and preferences between the Boomer, Generation X and Millenial populations exist toward particular food items and the brands each population trusts.

The Boomer generation is most likely to be found preparing traditional menus, typically rich with hearty meats, sauces and decadent desserts. The emphasis with this generation is on homemade.

Generation X, raised during the age of fast food chains, are the most likely to crave a meal at their local fast food location and have been found to be the most loyal to one particular brand or product throughout their life. Their purchases at the market tend to be systematic; they know what brands they’re looking for and will seldom select another, even if it’s a lower price or has more nutritional value.

The Millennial generation is by far the most health conscious, with six out of ten Millennials claiming to eat better than their parents, according to a recent PLMA study. They’re the most likely to seek out products that are organic or all-natural and have been at the forefront of the Greek yogurt and gluten-free movement.

3. Convenience—and health—are key

Fewer Millennials are reaching for their favorite childhood cereals or parents’ beloved packaged cookies; they’re making decisions based on nutrient labels and the value the products will have on their health, regardless of producer or brand name

The Organic Trade Association found that organic food sales have grown 10 percent since 2010, with more than $30 billion in sales in 2013 alone. This trumps general food sales, which have eclipsed a meager 3 percent growth since 2010. This is fueled by interest among Millennials in eating healthier and making selections that are likely to benefit their health. As such, organic and all-natural sections at grocery stores have grown rapidly in recent years to accommodate the growing demand, a trend that will likely continue over the next several years.

While these trends don’t forecast the demise of iconic or beloved American food staples, these findings serve as a reminder that the Millennial generation’s impact has reached beyond technology to equally influence food trends. The brand or variety of food you once saw on the specialty shelves is now located right next to classic, recognizable brands, a shift impacting professionals in the food and beverage industry and everyday consumers.

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