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6 Ways the Millennial Generation is Changing the Food Industry

September 25, 2013

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The millennial generation – those born between 1982 and 2001 – have faced a lot of challenges and criticism as they reach their 20s and 30s. Older generations say that Millennial are too dependent on their parents, lazy, and entitled. Others argue that the generation is in a unique position to fight for social equality and to replace the typical 9 to 5 job model with a more creative and inspiring approach to work. As a member of this generation, I can’t say which side of the argument is right and which is wrong. I will say that while the debate is seemingly endless, one thing is for sure: this generation is encouraging one of the biggest changes to food and nutrition that the world has ever seen.

Millennials are known for their need to have what they want as soon as they want it – an attitude that is clearly the result of the digital age. This applies to everything – jobs, shopping, even relationships. While millennials do want their food just as fast as everything else, they tend to lean more toward wanting fresh, healthy options, and they are willing to pay for it.

What changes are we seeing in the food and nutrition industry that millennials are supporting? 

  1. Organic farming: One of the best characteristics of the millennial generation is that they care about social issues. Whether it’s because they are passionate about animal rights, equality for family farmers, or simply don’t want to put hormones and chemicals in their bodies, corporate farming does not sit well with millennials. They are much more likely to shell out a few extra dollars at the farmers market instead of buying cheap frozen vegetables at the grocery store.
  2. Artisan products: There is nothing this generation loves more than local cheese from Wisconsin, maple tapped from the forests of Vermont, and hazelnuts grown in Oregon – especially if they are produced in limited quantities and only sold locally. Millennials are inspired by the creativity of their peers who are hand crafting artisan products. 
  3. Less processed foods: Gone are the days of Kraft mac and cheese and instant ramen noodles. Millennials are all about fresh, ingredients and home cooking. They are completely embracing the fact that home cooking doesn’t have to be hard or gourmet as long as you have fresh, good ingredients!
  4. Specialty markets: One-stop shopping is no longer a trend. This generation is more than happy to head to the farmers market for vegetables, the butcher for meat, and the Italian specialty shop for pasta. Buying products from producers that specialize in that product ensures the quality of food product that this generation appreciates and is becoming accustomed to. 
  5. Local shopping: Millennials love to shop locally! They support their local farmers at the farmers market, and local specialty food producers by shopping at boutiques and smaller markets instead of national chain grocery stores. They are also likely to support restaurants that source their food locally.
  6. Nutritional needs – Millennials are more in touch with the nutritional needs of their bodies than any generation before them. They are careful to eat all of the vitamins and nutrients that they need to feel their best. They are also very open to exploring different dietary theories like veganism or gluten-free to see what works best for them.

How to you feel about the new Millennial approach to food and nutrition?