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Millennials, by and large, are credited for being the ones who are out to “change the world.” They’re the most in tune with technology. They’re the most likely to go out to eat. And most importantly, they’re the ones who’ve changed the idea of value. However, what if all these things could be synthesized into one?

While it’s true that the world of food isn’t being disrupted overnight, millennials are certainly leading the change in the food revolution. From fast casual to farm-to-table, it seems as though every other month we hear about this generation finding something new to sink their teeth into. But there’s a bigger picture at play, and it’s one that’s not going away anytime soon. Here’s why:

1. The Shifting Environment

As many of us have heard before, millennials love going out to eat. In fact, according to an analysis of historical data on food-spending habits by the University of Arkansas, eating out has increased from 25.9% of consumers in 1970 to a current record of 43.5%. I’ll note that this pattern doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of millennials; there are numerous factors at play.

For starters, going out to eat or ordering takeout saw an increase in popularity as more women entered the workforce. Second, many people see the price difference between going out and cooking at home as negligible (though many others would beg to differ). And finally, people are just busier, meaning they don’t always have the time to prepare a home-cooked meal.

These trends have caused a rise not just in going out, but in the explosion of the fast-casual chain, which observers note will soon overtake fast food. By offering healthier choices that someone can get on the go, fast casual’s quality and availability have allowed it to become one of the primary options for millennials. Plus, these restaurants generally offer much more variety than their fast food counterparts, which gives them a significant edge.

2. A Healthier Approach

Despite the criticisms that millennials are going out to eat too much, these folks are actually some of the healthiest eaters of any generation. According to the Organic Trade Association, 52% of organic consumers are millennials. Furthermore, these folks eat 52% more vegetables than their older counterparts. Yes, millennials are highly aware of their eating habits, which has entrepreneurs and marketers taking note.

While the health trends of the early 2000s have come and gone (e.g., McDonald’s offering salads), millennials haven’t stopped paying attention to healthy eating. After all, these folks have grown up in a time when obesity is at an all-time high, which they’ve been making concerted efforts to combat. Additionally, millennials place a lot more value in what they put into their body, educating themselves on the benefits of natural and organic foods. This is supported by shifts in diet as well: a staggering 40% of millennials are reportedly taking on a plant-based diet.

Frankly, these changes in mentality and behavior shouldn’t come as a surprise. This generation is better informed and better educated, and they’re willing to go the extra mile to get what they perceive as the best value for their dollar.

3. What’s Coming Next

Millennials aren’t just changing the food we’re buying; they’re changing how we’re buying it. An excellent example of this is the rise in grocery- and meal-delivery services such as Door To Door Organics and Blue Apron, which offer high-quality natural or organic foods brought straight to your door. However, while this helps alleviate our on-demand desires, it only takes care of a fraction of our lifestyle requirements.

Let’s face it: people are busy. We don’t always have time to cook or even pick up something that satisfies our hunger, which can leave us making decisions that aren’t exactly the healthiest. And that’s what companies like Elements are trying to combat. Their ready-to-go packages have fresh ingredients, including some that never lose their nutrients (a rare, and possibly unprecedented, achievement). Expect companies like this to be a game-changer in a couple of years.

The future of food is going to be guided by millennials’ current concerns and desires, and it’s going to be interesting to see how these companies will continue to come up with new, creative solutions. Considering that the food industry has remained relatively stagnant in terms of delivery and options over the past few decades, we’re overdue for a facelift. Overall, the future of food is looking bright; the only question is: how far do you think it can grow?

Source: Deep Patel, Food Leaders Take Notice: How Millennials Are Changing The Way We Eat, Forbes, August 26, 2017.

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Last Updated : Friday, April 27, 2018