Millennials are doing many things differently from their predecessors, especially in New York City. One of the biggest changes is their food choices. This should not be surprising, though, considering the lifestyle of millennials is very active. They are constantly on-the-go, squeezing as much as they can into a small amount of time. In a recent, nationwide survey by the Private Label Manufacturers Association, they discovered millennials’ love for food. Healthy foods and prepared, portable foods were at the top of their lists.
The study included 1,838 shoppers between the ages of 20 and 29. Of the shoppers, 931 were women, while 908 were men. As one of the biggest surveys PLMA has commissioned in the United States, it’s probably one of the most accurate. The demographic group represents about 15% of the total population (roughly 50 million Americans).
According to the study, half of the consumers do not have a set schedule for meals. More than half like to snack throughout the day (62%) and take breaks to eat when they’re hungry (56%). In fact, sometimes they’ll snack more than have actual meals, such as lunch. Various reasons for snacking rather than eating included the following: planned on eating later and needed something to hold them over, rushed, or simply too busy. In fact, many ate on the go, while working, or in the car.
Millennials are also very loyal, especially when it comes to their food source. For instance, nine out of 10 regularly grocery shop in only one or two stores. A slim 3% shop at four or more. In addition, they visit their food store a minimum of once a week. They will also spend 30 minutes to an hour each time they shop.
The study refers to millennials as a “generation of nibblers and experimenters,” which seems to be an accurate summary. They love to shop at farmers markets, kiosks, push carts, and food trucks. Whether they eat at home or away, a full meal or small snacks, nearly all of them want fresh food. 35% desire fresh baked bread, while 48% search for fresh raw vegetables or green salads. Furthermore, 57% of them almost always reach for fresh fruits.
Access to fresh food is important to millennials for several reasons. For 42%, it’s healthy. That’s why they choose healthy foods. But others eat healthy food for pleasure (36%), nutrition (39%), and energy and stamina (34%). They’re also strongly opposed to certain products in their food. One in four say it’s important to avoid high fructose corn syrup, as well as GMOs, hormones, and antibiotics. As a result, millennials are aware of their ingredients in food. Three of four read labels on products for nutrition reasons, while nine out of 10 are aware of the ingredients in the food products they eat. An overwhelming 86% are aware of brands and 73% say they’re aware of the makers or producers of their food.
Food is equally sacred as it is embedded into their everyday lives. They are always snacking or eating on the go, but recognize its importance in different settings. While food is important for sustaining them through the work day, it has to fit in with their schedule. The schedules of millennials is already fast-paced. As a result, they want the energy to keep going, while also enjoying something fresh. Millennials are changing the way America eats, but in a healthy way.