Transparency, variety and community top the list for millennial eating habits.

 

Millennials are, without a doubt, a trendsetting bunch. They’re in the spotlight when it comes to shaping industries such as entertainment, fashion, jobs, shopping, travel, and food. The food industry has experienced influences brought on by millennial eating habits.

Millennials are distinct from previous generations. This demographic is not only more passionate about food and eating but also adventurous enough to seek out new experiences. Here are a few different ways millennial eating habits have shaped the food and beverage industry.

Reading Food Labels

One of the most significant ways food-purchase experiences have changed is how diligently millennials read food labels and want transparency with their ingredients. This practice shows their commitment to nutrition and confidence in their ability to make good food choices.

Millennials are highly skeptical of nutrition information, especially when it’s coming from a bias source. There is a fear that influenced special interest groups ignore actual food product information and advertise what they think will sell. The millennial approach to this issue is to follow logic or gain information from a neutral third party.

Food as an Experience

In this age of information exchange, millennials want to engage and have valuable food experiences for more than just eating. This generation likes to share food as a social experience where they consult with their friends, family, and even healthcare professionals to bring focus to proper nutrition and look for additional input from alternate sources.

They tend to be distinctly influenced by social media personalities and akin culinary channels rather than by traditional celebrities. Expanding the food experience even further, millennial eating habits are highly influenced by food blogs and celebrity chefs.

Replacing Meals with Snacks

While this may seem a little unorthodox, millennials prefer to consume more ‘wholesome snacks’ instead of the three-meals-a-day precedent. This generally reflects features of good taste accompanied by satiety, quality ingredients, health considerations, and portability. Their reasons for doing so are cited as being too busy to have a sit-down meal or an admission to not being bothered to cook.

However, as the percentage of snack consumption goes up, so do expectations for quality snacks. Most millennials believe that fewer ingredients lead to healthier the snacks with greater focus on the elimination of trans- fats, added sugars, and artificial sweeteners. They prefer to see organic and reasonably sourced ingredients such as omega 3’s on the packaging. Millennials also prefer gluten free, allergen free and vegan options when choosing a snack.

Communal Dining

Millennials like to eat with company. This dining trend sits well with this group as it becomes part of a social activity. Since they already like to share thoughts on food and restaurants with their friends, it’s easy to see they also enjoy eating together. This trend also makes certain international cuisines more popular with millennials as they involve small dishes which are perfect for sharing.

Some examples include:

  • Chinese dim sum
  • Spanish tapas
  • Japanese sushi

Social Influencers

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Social media has a stark impact on various aspects of millennial eating habits. Many go through online review websites before deciding on where to eat. They want to know other diners’ opinions before trying out a restaurant. An astounding 68 percent will consult with friends before selecting an eatery. Others try certain food brands based on online rating or reviews, yielding figures higher than any other previous generation.

Customization

Despite their popularity and established repute, restaurants with a set menu may not be what millennials are looking for. Instead, they prefer places where customization is an option because millennials like to personalize their meals. This is why places like Chipotle are a millennial favorite as it offers a myriad of customizable menu options.

Variety Seekers

Millennials don’t limit themselves to easily available junk food varieties; instead, they like some uniqueness in their meals. That is why gourmet food is a popular option: many are willing to spend money on a nice, exotic meal and happy to experiment with new and rich flavors.

Even where meals may be traditional such as chicken wings, it’s the variety of different glazes and dipping sauces that make the wings more exciting.

Millennials find themselves drawn to food trucks where they can try out new and exciting flavors without an expensive price tag. Appetizers and small bites sit well with these eaters as it gives them something new to try without having to commit to the entire entrée.

Environmentally Conscious Diners

Millennial eating habits are driven by environmental issues and anything biodegradable, organic or recyclable will appeal to this crowd. Millennials are more willing to spend on foods that are healthier and good for the environment.Millennials also prefer to eat organically certified foods as compared to their Gen X and Baby Boomer predecessors.

In this respect, they are also influenced by the way food brands package their products and demonstrate their sustainability and commitment to environmental issues. They also happen to be more suspicious of brand claims than previous generations regarding environmental impact and will not believe assertions unless there is evidence to back them up.

The Future of Millennial Eating Habits

Nutrition labels with minimal preservatives and organic ingredients will become commonplace. Snacking will replace the three-meal model and restaurants will cultivate a more communal eating environment. Variety and personalization will continue to be important as environmentally-friendly initiatives flourish. And, these habits will be documented with smartphones by friends and shared on social media.

Author Bio: William Munir, Chief Marketing officer of Destine Nutrition, a supplement company specializing in smarter ways to live a healthier and more productive life.