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17/08/2018 – News / Food Processing / Innovation / Generation Z / Mintel

The Gen Z Effect: How a new generation will shape food innovation

The Gen Z Effect- How a new generation w

Millennials have had their time in the spotlight; now, companies are looking to the next generation to see how they will impact the future of the food and drink industry. Here, Mintel outlines how Gen Z will impact the future of F&B innovation.


Generation Z – the demographic aged 11-22 in 2018 – has the potential to reset expectations for health and wellness, increase the reach of international cuisine and heighten creativity in the kitchen, according to the latest research from Mintel. 


Presented at the recent IFT18, Mintel reveals how the diverse and tech-savvy Generation Z is set to transform food and beverage formulation in the coming years.


Head start on a healthy lifestyle


Regardless of age, sugar is at the top of parents’ watchlists when it comes to what their kids eat and drink. In fact, 60 per cent of parents with kids aged 12-17 and 55 per cent of parents with kids aged 18-plus in the household report saying “no” to their kids’ food and drink choices based on sugar content. Yet while sugar is a key concern for parents, just 11 per cent 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).


With parents on the lookout, America’s youngest consumers are increasingly growing health-conscious themselves. In fact, one-quarter of teens aged 15-17 say they worry about staying healthy, with another 49 per cent agreeing that they think 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. 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,” said Dana Macke, Associate Director of Lifestyles and Leisure Reports at Mintel.


International impulse


Today’s younger generations are the most diverse in US history – and in addition to their varied racial and ethnic backgrounds, parents are raising their children to have broader palates. Gen Z seems to be cultivating an appreciation for international cuisine from a young age, as 36 per cent of US parents of children under the age of 18 agree that their kids enjoy eating international foods.


Interest in international cuisine goes well beyond the more commonplace varieties such as Italian, Mexican and Chinese, as Gen Z consumers are driving consumption of more emerging international food and drink. In addition to interest in eating at international restaurants such as Indian (36 per cent), Middle Eastern (38 per cent) or African (27 per cent), adult Gen Z consumers are also much more likely than older generations to find culinary inspiration from social media: 62 per cent of young adults aged 18-22 say they cook international cuisines at home from social media, compared to 46 per cent of Millennials (aged 23-40) and 23 per cent of Generation X consumers (aged 41-52) who cook at home.


“Generation Z is America’s most diverse generation yet. 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. These adventurous habits are creating opportunities across categories, presenting potential for products such as tikka masala meal kits or Chinese Peking duck-flavoured 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 flavours,” said Jenny Zegler, Associate Director, Mintel Food & Drink.


DIY mentality


Raised in an era where consumers have access to information at their fingertips 24/7, younger generations have grown up with the ability to thoroughly research their hobbies and interests, resulting in 80 per cent of Gen Z consumers under 18 saying their hobbies/interests are just as important as their school work. What’s more, 36 per cent of consumers aged 10-17 and 31 per cent of those aged 18-22 believe that being creative is an important factor to being successful as an adult. This highlights an opportunity for food and drink brands to offer do-it-yourself experiences that help tweens, teens and young adults be creative and, eventually, confident in the kitchen.


“The wide range of food media, whether MasterChef Junior or YouTube videos, has piqued an interest in food and drink among some members of Generation Z. This younger generation’s easy access to technology and interest in being creative presents an opening for interactive products that encourage Gen Z to safely experiment and extend their passion for food and drink, such as chips that allow consumers to make their own flavour or kits to make more complex recipes or international meals at home,” concluded Zegler.

Latest issue – Vol 1/23
– Health & Nutrition focus
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