Tuesday, August 2, 2016

#YOLOHungry: Millennial Eating Habits

Laura Criscione
Millennials are known to care more about things like the environment, their health and what they eat compared to Generation X. Especially when we’re talking about food. Millennials are taking over the food industry in a plethora of ways. For one, they love new dining experiences and trying different tastes and flavors when eating out, and are even willing to spend a little extra cash on a new restaurant when money is tight. They are always searching for options on the menu that are “organic”, “natural” and “fresh”. In addition,  they’re on the  lookout for customizable menu options allowing them to become creative with the food they eat. [1]

Despite millennials loving to eat at restaurants, they are also all about convenience and want things that are quick and easy to grab. Hence why they eat more snacks than meals throughout the day. “According to trend watchers, 35 percent of meals eaten by millennials are really snacks. Although the Pew Research Center describes this generation as "confident, connected and open to change," others have described them as driven by "cravings, cost and convenience." [2] They are always on-the-go so quick, convenient food is a must, but eating out at restaurants is a great way to treat oneself after a stressful work week. One study has found that “prepaying and buying food at kiosks appeal to millennials more than any other generation. Nearly 60% say they would use call-ahead or online ordering for delivery or takeout, and 45% want tools to let them to see the progress of their order.”[3] Overall, it can be seen how millennials love both eating out and trying new and ethnic tastes and restaurants, but also love convenience and on-the-go food to cater to their hectic schedules.

Out of all the different ways of eating, some millennials are jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon that has been progressing over the years. “Data collected from a survey of over 2,500 adults, of the 21% of US consumers purchasing gluten-free, millennial consumers (aged 18-34) represented the lion’s share at 28%”.[4] It can be seen by the “gluten-free trend”, that many consumers are buying more gluten-free products despite them not being gluten intolerant. People who are gluten intolerant and actually need to purchase gluten-free food items represent a small percentage of the population. "Celiac sprue (a serious inflammatory gastrointestinal syndrome attributed to permanent intolerance to wheat gluten) is extremely rare- it affects only 1 percent or less of the population." [5] Despite this tiny percentage, "many of the consumers who purchase gluten-free items believe themselves to have a sensitivity to wheat allergens, or at least believe that there are healthier nutritional options out there." Millennial foodies have pushed sales for these items from an estimated $5.4 billion in 2012 to over $8 billion in 2014! [6] A gluten-free diet may even be more unhealthy for those partaking in this lifestyle who don't have Celiac disease due to the lack of fiber, zinc and other important nutrients that are in gluten-filled foods.

This type of "lifestyle" is most likely due to a trend, just as many other food trends have come about. It's not like they have to avoid gluten at all costs, but would rather buy a few options that don't contain gluten since, probably, other things they eat have gluten. “Among consumers who purchased gluten-free in the past three months, 38% said ‘trace amounts are okay as long as the ingredients don’t include wheat or gluten’. Millennials represented 43% of consumers with this purchase sentiment.”[7] Millennials are looking for gluten-free foods/snacks to add into their diet since they think less gluten couldn’t hurt, but it is not a major priority since they do not have a gluten intolerance illness.

This illustrates how Generation Y is always conscious of their health and are willing to try new “trends” if they believe it will have an beneficial to their health in the future.  

By: Laura Criscione 

[1] "Give Millennials What They Crave." Gordon Food Service. 2016. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
[2] Nelson, Jennifer, and Katherine Zeratsky. "Nutrition and Healthy Eating." What Food Trends Define the Millennial Generation? 2011. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
[3] "Give Millennials What They Crave."
[4] Culliney, Kacey. "Who Is the US Gluten-free Consumer?" BakeryAndSnacks.com. 3 Oct. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
[5] "The Gluten-Free Millennial: How Young Adults Sparked a Food Trend." The Gluten-Free Millennial: How Young Adults Sparked a Food Trend. 8 May 2015. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.
[6] "The Gluten-Free Millennial: How Young Adults Sparked a Food Trend.".
[7] Culliney, Kacey. "Who Is the US Gluten-free Consumer?"

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