Gen Z Favors Fun, Fresh Food

Move over millennials, Gen Z is estimated to be the largest generation in the United States as of 2017. But what impact will this group have on the food industry? These individuals were born between 1997 and 2012 and have tastes in food much more varied than their parents or millennials.

  • Diverse palate. Gen Zers are more willing than preceding generations to try different types of dishes, like Indian or Middle Eastern cuisine.
  • Meat substitutions. Gen Zers are also eating more alternative protein options, including plant-based foods and vegetarian dishes. Restaurants are picking up on this trend, and are beginning to offer more options.
  • Want fresh, healthy food. This group is more likely to want a balance of vegetable to protein in their meals. They also value organic and sustainable ingredients with their foods, as they have grown up aware of nutritional facts and food industry knowledge.
  • Fun twists to food. Although the classic burger or pizza option is appealing to Gen Z, they want to eat those same foods with a twist. They want to expand their palate and try more adventurous foods and infusions with other types of food. This is why we have things like Honey Nut Frosted Flakes and jalapeno M&Ms!

This generation is unique and will have a significant impact on the food flavors and trends. Charlie Arnot, president of the Center for Food Integrity, defines Gen Z as “conscientious and purpose-drive purchasers on its way to shaping the future of the food industry.”

Here are some food trends to understand about this group:

  • Adventurous at heart, and in food. Gen Zers believe that food should not just be about convenience or health, but also an experience. These group loves to try new and adventurous food, like food trucks and street food, that will taste good and provide a unique eating/dining experience.
  • Health and fitness are important, but value convenience and low-cost food. Compared to older generations, this generation is conscientious of health and nutritional benefits of their food, but show a preference for fast food and familiar tastes.
  • Value transparency. This relates to both products and food companies themselves. It’s not enough to produce an amazing product anymore if companies don’t hold strong values. Purpose-driven and transparent companies are important to this group.
  • Not as loyal to food brands. This trait among this group really separates them from previous generations. Gen Zers are not as loyal when it comes to food brands, and instead value clean and healthy products, and are conscientious of manufacturers values, as stated before.
  • Want easy to prepare meals. They’re as mobile as their technology and might not have time to cook a full meal, so it’s important that their meals are easy to prepare
  • Snacktime—it’s a must. This group is always on the move and appreciates a nutritious snack to give them the necessary boost to tackle their day. Snacks that are easy to package and travel are important.
  • There’s an app for that! Whether it’s sitting down and enjoying a nice meal in a restaurant or using the latest food-delivery app to order in, Gen Zers made 14.6 billion restaurant visits in 2018. This made up 10% of total food service traffic. Food delivery apps have made this significant jump in food industry visits possible.

Gen Z and their food trends are unique and significantly different than previous generations, shaping the future of the food industry. Who knows what they’ll think of next?