A Millennial take on food consumption

Kimberly Egan, former CEO of the Center for Culinary Development, already stated in 2009: “Generation Y has a game-changing approach to food consumption that will definitely affect how other demographics, including Gen X and baby boomers, shop and eat.

Seven years later, this quote is even more relevant. We call Gen Y the foodie generation, and their behavior and attitudes towards food are more important than ever. Their appetite and food needs are changing the entire culinary landscape, and on top of that they are influencing the evolution of restaurants and food concepts.

Nowadays, food brands and chefs are forced to design new creative concepts that meet the needs of Gen Y. These concepts are based on three emerging trends…

Healthy and plant-based food – Generation Nice

Millennials are increasingly linking luxury to good health. For them, eating meat is no longer commonplace. Eggs and dairy are not considered to be essential in their diets. A logical explanation lies in online media that provide information on the environmental impact of animal agriculture and on the cruel treatment of animals in slaughterhouses. Furthermore, they have seen their parents suffer from heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Generation Nice is up for a healthy lifestyle change!

They are looking for food that is friendly to both their body and the planet. We can call it a plant-based lifestyle.

Burger Impossible

Creative culinary thinkers have noticed this specific need and are introducing innovative animal-product alternatives:

  • Impossible Foods: it all started with the company’s lab developing a delicious burger made entirely from plants. They did research on the uniqueness of meat: the sizzle, the smell, the juicy first bite. Then they set out to find exactly the right ingredients in the plant kingdom to recreate the experience meat lovers crave.
  • Hampton Creek: this company, headquartered in San Francisco, sells plant-based foods. The company’s signature product is an egg-free mayonnaise.
  • Gelzen: this company was founded to sustainably produce-animal-free gelatin for use in food and in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products.

Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.” (Winston Churchill – 1931)

Guilt-free sustainable consumption – The Generation of Young Famers

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), Millennials are most concerned about climate change. This generation cares deeply about global issues and is determined to challenge them.

These young people are looking for new ways to reduce their consumption footprint, as they believe it is their personal responsibility to make the world a better place. They buy less and cut down on waste.

Besides that, people fear that the global population will outgrow the food supply. That is why innovators are looking for new ways to supplement the food supply without overtaxing natural resources. One solution, namely vertical farming, may well be the future.

The Generation of Young Farmers loves this new way of farming because it can be applied in big cities (where most of them live) and for the practical purpose of eating healthier, and most of all more sustainably.

Veg growing on walls White people

Pioneers are introducing some new business models that are sustainable for future generations:

  • Square Roots: an urban farming incubator programme that will give young food-tech entrepreneurs the space to develop and accelerate their vertical-farming start-ups. These vertical farms are created inside 10 steel, 320-square-foot shipping containers. The containers contain rows of organic greens and herbs, and each mini farm is managed by a young next-generation entrepreneur that is interested in vertical farming.
  • The Fillery: a neighborhood bulk food shop. Its aim is to minimize unnecessary packaging and waste for local communities. This is where customers find healthy food, good goods and household products to fill their pantries. They are responsibly sourced and fairly priced for all.
  • Daily Table: a not-for-profit retail store that offers its community a variety of tasty, convenient and affordable foods. They offer an upbeat, clean and friendly retail-store environment that is open to everyone in the community. They can offer these daily values by working with a large network of growers, supermarkets, manufacturers and other suppliers that donate their excess, healthy food or provide them with special buying opportunities.
  • Albert Heijn (Purmerend): one of the most sustainable supermarkets in Europe. The customer can pick herbs in the herbs garden. It is a mini greenhouse where herbs are grown during the last weeks of the growth process. Customers reap the fully-grown herbs themselves and choose the desired types and quantity.

Affordable convenience food – The Fast-Casual Generation

Millennials are snappy, they want things to go fast. This fast-casual generation has less patience and hates queuing. Furthermore, they are keen on healthy and organic food. 79% of Millennials indicates to be waiting for more affordable, convenient and on-the-go healthy food options.

Organic fast food seems to be a string of words that rarely appears together, but this phrase is set to become much more common.

Fast-casual is the fastest-growing foodservice segment globally. Food brands and chefs of the moment are being forced to create a link between fast food and health. They do so by starting new convenient ventures to ensure Millennials’ taste buds stay tantalized on the go.

Hello Goodness vending machine

To meet Millennials’ needs, innovators have created some new healthy and convenient concepts:

  • PepsiCo: they introduced a new type of vending machine that only offers nutritious choices. It encourages healthy snacking by eliminating unhealthy products from its selection.
  • Pantry: a California-based start-up which designed a modern vending machine that ensures that everyone has access to fresh meals. While the idea of grabbing food on the go is nothing new, traditional vending machines are stocked with unhealthy snacks such as chips, chocolate and soda. This start-up aims to re-imagine the vending machine for the modern era, by stocking it with fresh and healthy ingredients.
  • Amy’s Kitchen: Amy’s Kitchen is a healthy frozen-food brand best known for its organic, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free products. The brand has moved beyond the grocery store and ventured into new territory by opening Amy’s Drive Thru restaurant.
  • Whole Foods: this company has partnered with vegan meal-kit service Purple Carrot to sell its boxes in select locations.
  • The Corner by McDonald’s: the brand’s response to the consumers’ need for healthier and convenience food with The Corner, where they serve a healthy gourmet menu, including tofu and vegetables, at an affordable price.
Not just for veggies - Lime piranha fish

Some creative concepts just have it all and are on their way to success…

Grown, Veggie Pret and LEON are three innovative concepts that deserve a place in the spotlight. These new food players are in the frontline because they managed to translate consumer insights into a new concept. They perfectly integrated the three emerging food trends (healthy, sustainable and convenience) into their own creative project. Therefore, they will be Millennials’ favorite share-worthy dining experience!

  • Grown: Grown stands for “real food, cooked slowly for fast people“. At Grown, food is convenient, nutritious and affordable all at the same time, under one garden-topped roof, full of freshly grown ingredients. The menu offers 100% organic fast food focusing on nutrient-dense, farm-to-fork cuisine. Grown utilizes pulp-free and compostable paper products, 100% recyclable cups, BPA-free storage containers and a plantable kids’ meals’ packaging that encourages Grown’s youngest guests to cultivate their own gardens. On top of that, the dining room features a floor-to-ceiling living wall of organic, edible herbs and aromatic vegetation ripe for picking.
  • Veggie Pret: the Veggie Pret story started as a vegetarian pop-up. Thanks to the overwhelming success, CEO Clive Schee chose to move to a permanent fixture. Veggie Pret serves fresh, healthy and plant-based menus. They are committed to the highest feasible levels of animal welfare, environmental stewardship and ethical farming. On top of that, Veggie Pret has a strategic approach to reduce its impact on the environment and to have a positive impact on the society it operates in.
  • LEON: a healthy and sustainable fast food restaurant with good food. Co-founders John Vincent, Henry Dimbleby and Allegra McEvedy opened LEON because they wanted to prove that it is possible to serve food that tastes good and does you good at the same time. They want to make it easy for people to eat well in the high street. On top of that, LEON is proud to be a founding member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Want to explore how your brand can connect with Millennials and Gen Z? Discover what our research toolbox and expert power can do for your brand!

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