Want to know how millenials' consumer habits are shaping the future of food?
The Millenial Generation & The Future Of Food
When you hear the word “millenials,” what's the first thing that comes to mind?
Is it technology? Selfies? Facebook?
How about craft beer, artisan cheese and food's future?
The Millenial Generation's (those born after 1980) obsession with themselves, status and social media has given them a bad rap among the older generations (hey, even among other Gen Yers) for being seemingly narcissistic, parent-dependent and hopelessly vapid.
But did you know that Millenials are so much more than that? It's true – despite your personal opinion regarding this generation, one thing has become clear: by choosing to spend their money on local, organic, non-GMO, craft food, millenials are reconstructing its future one purchase at a time.
Where fast food joints and quick-cook food, such as Hamburger Helper and Kraft's Mac N Cheeze, once reigned supreme in grocery stores and households, Millenials are progressing the future of food by choosing to spend their money on unprocessed, organic, all-natural and, as of late, vegan food. This is quickly changing the marketing and branding strategy of food companies such as Chipotle, Panera, and heck, even McDonald's as they struggle to keep up with changing perceptions on what food should be and taste like. The change can also be seen in grocery stores around the country as places such as Ralph's, Food 4 Less and more, begin to stock and promote organic products. Changing consumer habits has also resulted in a rise of health-centric grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Sprouts and Trader Joe's.
In Eve Turow's debut book, A Taste of Generation Yum, Eve delves into the reasons why food plays such an important role in the life of Gen Yers (I think we're all aware of the food photo madness on Instagram) and how Gen Yers are changing the landscape of food by choosing food that is local, organic and artisan-crafted.
If you've noticed the rise in specialty coffee, microbrew beer, specialty diets such as paleo, gluten-free or vegan, and locally-grown food, it's no coincidence. You can thank this generation for that.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Eve discusses why food is so important and how the culture and lifestyle of today have set millenials up to seek out external sources of pleasure in order to reinvigorate their dulling senses.
Here are some highlights:
- “I really think it comes down to technology, for a few reasons. One, is sensory deprivation. We have formed into a society that’s so accustomed to sitting in front of a screen and typing, for the vast majority of the day. And the truth of the matter is that it’s not exciting all of our senses. Through interviews over and over again, I kept hearing that people want something that’s tangible, that they can see and feel and smell and taste and that we’re the guinea pigs of growing up in that [digital] world.”
- “There is this kind of bizarre balance within the generation because on the one hand, we’re broke, at the moment. But, we were more likely than generations before to have been raised with money. So, we have this taste for arugula and prosciutto, even though we’re making $30,000 a year and five years out of college.”
- “There is huge progress being made and it's largely because the industry is seeing that Millennials are not going to be spending their money on processed foods.”
Read the full interview here.
So what does this mean for the future of food?
While it's still too early to say, I think we can expect this current trend to grow and expand. We can expect more fast food chains to switch from processed, chemical-laden foods to all-natural and fresh meals; we can expect more joints like Amy's vegetarian drive-thru to open up; and, we can expect more communities to provide local and organic produce to their citizens through farmer's markets, CSAs and more.
We can expect a positive progression in food's future as more people become well-informed and demand change by voting with their fork.
So, sure, the Millenial generation may not be the best, but they're not all bad, are they?
To read more about Eve Turow's newest book, check out this piece on Bon Appetit.
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