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3 ways Gen Z will impact the food business

October 10, 2016

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Born roughly between 1996 and 2011, this generation is touted as being highly practical, entrepreneurial and driven. (Photo via Pixabay)

Generation Z is poised to begin making a major impact on the food and beverage industry. Born roughly between 1996 and 2011, this generation is touted as being highly practical, entrepreneurial and driven. Gen Zs have huge potential spending power; combined with their large numbers, they are certain to be a major influence on the F&B Industry. Here are three trends worth watching.

Coping With Obesity

If Gen Z’s historically high child and teen obesity rate continues unchanged, 77 percent of men and 61 percent of women in the demographic will be obese by adulthood. One of the major reasons is that kids are not as active as older generations were. Instead of playing sports or outdoor activities, they are gaming or connecting with other screens. In order to maintain a healthy weight, this more sedentary generation is going to require foods with lower calorie counts. This fits with the generation’s overall attitude toward food: Gen Zers care about healthy and organic food more than other age groups. The Evolution of Eating Report shows that they are eating healthier that Millennials did at their age. Zs want transparency in labeling and content and research shows that they are willing to pay for it.

Trying New Experiences

Generation Z is the most ethnically diverse population group in American history. They like to expand and try new things, and flavors are no exception. Ethnic foods and ingredients from around the world have become prominent in their food preferences. Gen Z is also experimenting with how they dine. According to market research firm NPD, these young adults have shown a proclivity for shared meals. In addition, Gen Z spends a good portion of their entertainment budget on eating out: on average, 20 percent more than millennials did at their age. They look at eating out as an opportunity to share and socialize.

Choosing Convenience—Except When It’s Homemade

Gen Z’s devotion to fast casual chains could continue to spur development in this already-robust area; in 2016, traffic to fast-casual restaurants grew 6 percent over the previous year. Z’s have grown up with access to a  diverse choice of quick and healthy food purveyors, and they aren’t willing to compromise. In addition, they expect conveniences like delivery, and they are predicted to continue favoring quick but nutritious on-the-go bites instead of large sit-down meals, to the tune of an 8 percent annual growth in healthy snacks. When they do opt for a seated meal, this generation wants more of a hand in preparing their own food. There has been an increase in kids getting into the cooking world, spurred by pop culture like reality TV with child chef competitions. According to the NPD, the number of Gen Zers preparing homemade meals will rise 6 percent.

Reporter’s takeaway:

• Investigate local restaurants and grocery stores to see if they are marketing to Generation Z or if they have noticed a change in their clientele.

• Fast-casual restaurants should continue to be one of the most robust areas of the food and beverage industry. It’s worth comparing the number of fast-casual restaurants in your area today and 10 years ago.

• Talk to Gen Zers in your area to see if they agree with the trends represented here. How do they choose to spend their money and what is most important to them?


  • Jenna Miller

    Jenna is a journalist and videographer residing in West Philadelphia. She’s previously worked for Delaware Online and the Salisbury Daily Times, both part of the USA Today Network. She aims to create thoughtful, community-centered work. Jenna graduat...

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