Move over millennials, Gen Z is now shaping the food and beverage landscape

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Gen Z is finding culinary inspiration online through social media platforms and testing recipes out at home more often than older generations. ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages
Gen Z is finding culinary inspiration online through social media platforms and testing recipes out at home more often than older generations. ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages

Related tags: Gen Z, Millennials

The diverse and tech saavy ways of Generation Z or the iGeneration – referring to those aged 11-22 in 2018 – will have a profound impact on food and beverage formulations over the next several years, Mintel noted during a presentation at IFT 2018.

While many consumers have adopted a healthy lifestyle and habits as they age, perhaps ditching sugary soda and soft drinks for water, the Gen Z generation has a head start on healthy eating when it comes to food and beverage choices.

Sugar conscious at a young age

For the most part, parents act as the gatekeepers of food and beverage products that come into the house with sugar content listed as the top concern, Mintel noted.

In fact, 60% of parents with kids aged 12-17 and 55% of parents with kids aged 18+ in the household report saying “no”​ to their kids’ food and drink choices based on sugar content.

This health conscious attitude and awareness of sugar has rubbed off on kids and teens eating behaviors. According to Mintel, 25% of teens aged 15 to 17 say they worry about staying healthy and nearly half (49%) agree that drinking soda is unhealthy.

“Generation Z has come of age at a time when health and wellness is a major consideration. Many younger members of Generation Z follow their parents’ healthy ways and it seems health-consciousness only gets stronger as they approach adulthood,”​ Dana Macke, Associate Director, Lifestyles and Leisure Reports, at Mintel, said. 

“However, health is multi-faceted for this group, suggesting that better-for-you formulations, such as craveable fruits and vegetables, can be expanded to give this generation options that fit with their ever-changing diet priorities.”

The industry has a role to play in encouraging kids’ healthy choices by creating more better-for-you options that address sugar concerns as just 11% of US food and drink launches aimed at children (ages 5-12) from June 2017-May 2018 had low, no or reduced sugar claims, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).

A generation of adventurous eaters

Partly due to Gen Z being the most diverse generation in US history, parents are raising their kids to broaden their palates to help cultivate and appreciate international cuisine at a young age.

Over one-third of US parents (36%) with children under the age of 18 say that their kids enjoy eating international foods that goes beyond the typical Italian, Mexican, and Chinese cuisine, according to Mintel.

Kids expressed interest in eating at international restaurants such as Indian (36%), Middle Eastern (38%) or African (27%).

Adult Gen Z consumers are also much more likely than older generations to find culinary inspiration from social media and attempt to cook international dishes at home in the kitchen.

Roughly 62% of young adults aged 18-22 say they cook international cuisines at home from social media, compared to 46% of Millennials (aged 23-40) and 23% of Generation X consumers (aged 41-52) who cook at home.

“With exposure to international foods starting at an early age, whether in restaurants or at home, Generation Z is more likely to be open to the latest international food trend or innovative fusion creation,”​ Jenny Zegler, associate director, Mintel Food & Drink, said.

“These adventurous habits are creating opportunities across categories, presenting potential for products such as tikka masala meal kits or Chinese Peking duck-flavored potato chips.

While restaurants remain the most common points of discovery for international cuisine, younger consumers’ exposure to a range of cuisine types creates opportunities for brands to offer more authentic and hybrid flavors.”

Discuss topics like kids eating choices and more at FoodNavigator-USA's FOOD FOR KIDS Summit taking place in Chicago November 12-14. See our top-notch speakers here​ and register here​.


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Join us for the inaugural FoodNavigator-USA Summit: Food for Kids. Organized by the publishers of FoodNavigator-USA, the number one daily news service for the food and beverage industry, FoodNavigator-USA Summit: Food for Kids focuses on food and nutrition for every life stage.

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