'There seems to be a disconnect between ‘plant-based’ and ‘vegetable-rich...' Mintel talks Gen Z and vegetable consumption

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages / Maria Casinos
©GettyImages / Maria Casinos

Related tags: Mintel, Gen Z, plant-based eating

Despite higher interest in plant-based eating, Gen Z consumers are less likely to shop, prepare, and eat fresh vegetables than any other generation, according to Mintel research.

Even with renewed consumer interest in fresh eating spurred by the pandemic – particularly the uptick in fresh fruit and vegetable consumption – more than a quarter of US Gen Zs say eating enough vegetables feels like a chore, while three in 10 consumers in this age group say it is hard for them to make vegetables taste good, reports Mintel.

“Gen Z is not seeing the need for vegetables and is reporting lower usage of all segments of the category. Veg brands should reconsider their messaging to help Gen Zs understand the importance of veg in their lives,”​ notes Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, a global food analyst at Mintel.

A main reason for this lack of enthusiasm around vegetable consumption could be that vegetable brands simply aren’t targeting this generation, or if they are, traditional marketing methods don’t reach this younger audience who are more likely to respond to influencer marketing and social media platforms such as TikTok, according to Zanoza Bartelme.

“Vegetable brands may be taking for granted that all consumers understand how to create a healthy diet, but this message may not be resonating with Gen Zs. This generation is drawn to plant-based diets, but they may not understand why fiber-rich whole vegetables should be part of their overall eating,”​ she said.

Zanoza Bartelme explained that while more than four in five consumers aged 16-24 say they have consumed a meat-free product in the past six months, that behavior doesn’t necessarily translate to consumption of actual vegetables.

“There seems to be a disconnect between ‘plant-based’ and ‘vegetable-rich,’ and vegetable brands should do more to help Gen Zs see the need for vegetables in a way that will resonate with them,”​ she said.

How to speak to Gen Z

Unsurprisingly, the Gen Z generation is extremely active on social media and many use these platforms to discover and vet new products and services, according to Mintel research. In the UK, for instance, more than three-quarters of Gen Zs think brands can improve their image by partnering with the right social media personalities.

“Vegetable brands can take advantage of this belief in the power of social media to reach Gen Zs where they are. TikTok is one option with great potential. Wherever the source, brands can partner with influencers who are passionate about vegetables and task them with helping Gen Z see veggies as a necessary and cool part of their diet,”​ said Zanoza Bartelme.

Convenience, taste, and fun

In terms of actual messaging, Zanoza Bartelme notes how Gen Z is more likely to care about and prioritize ethical issues from climate change to workers’ rights, and want brands to hold those same values. According to Mintel, more than two-thirds of Canadian Gen Zs care if brands/companies represent their personal values.

One brand doing this well, notes Zanoza Bartelme is Tattooed Chef, which in addition to its packaged vegetable products, on its website discusses its farm-to-table, sustainably grown products and features on-trend flavors and formats such as Mexican street corn and tahini-accented Buddha bowls.

“But the brand also taps into ease of use, saying “we spend the time so you don’t have to,”​ she said.

Convenience, taste, and fun, and offerings that mimic foodservice and restaurant dishes is another effective way to reach Gen Z consumers and encourage vegetable consumption, added Zanoza Bartelme.

Tune into the final segment of the FOOD FOR KIDS virtual summit: Meeting Children’s Nutritional Needs, from Foods to Supplements

Wednesday, Nov. 18th​ at 12 p.m. CST

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