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How millennials are changing the foodie game

Three ways the new generation is dictating the future of food

They’re young, yes, but millennials are beyond the cusp of changing the food industry forever.

Consider it changed.

However, they’re tough to pin down. A recent study by the advertising giant BBDO found that 50 percent of millennials refer to themselves as “foodies,” but 60 percent of those same 20-somethings still visit fast-food restaurants at least once a week. They’re simultaneously “community-oriented” and self-centered. Millennials are generation who, according to research by the Center for Culinary Development, values “authenticity above almost all else” but have a soft spot for ethnic mash-ups.

This offers an exciting opportunity for restaurant owners to work together with an experienced Ohio food service provider to engage with (and gain the loyalty of) this influential generation.

Who are millennials?

In a nutshell, millennials are made up of the generation born between 1980 and 2000. That encompasses a huge demographic, and can make it hard to narrow down who exactly your customer is. The stakes are high though, as the Pew Research Center reports that an estimated 64 million millennials will be shopping the marketplace by 2020, making up roughly 50 percent of the US workforce.

When world leaders in food and science technology met at this year’s IFT meeting and food expo, Heidi Curry of Dunkin’ Brands listed three key characteristics of millennials that her company focuses on when developing products for them. She explained they are tech and food savvy, in addition to environmentally aware when making their food purchasing decisions.

Millennials demand local

When The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) released its most recent trend forecast, it predicted locally sourced meats and fish, followed closely by locally grown produce, to be the most popular food trends at table service restaurants this year.

It also reported that that 91 percent of fine dining, 72 percent of family dining and 73 percent of casual dining restaurant operators said their customers are more interested in locally grown produce than they were two years ago.

Millennials are proud of the effects their choices have on the environment and local economies, and even feel that they are carving out their own approach to selecting foods that’s unique from their parents’ generation.

They’re drinking wine. Lots of wine.

Fox Business reported that millennials now drink a quarter of the wine sold in the United States. And of core drinkers, or people who drink wine at least once a week, millennials make up 30 percent.

According to Chris Fehrnstrom, chief marketing officer for Constellation Brands, there are 62 million millennials of legal drinking age—a number that will jump to 70 million in just two years.

“They are adopting wine at a faster rate than any other generation—we know going forward this group is going to be engaged in the discovery of wine, they are experimental, they are rebellious, they crave experiences so we see this as an opportunity to connect with them,” he says.

What’s more, a study released by Technomic found that a third of wine drinkers purchase retail wine, but don’t regularly order it in restaurants—a clear opportunity for restaurants who can figure out how to close the gap.

They crave customization.

One size does not fit all for the millennial crowds. They’re more aware of labels and nutrition than ever before. They knew what’s in their food. They know what they like and how they like it. They follow chefs on Instagram and watch Jay-Z’s cooking show on YouTube.

The bottom line: create opportunities for customization. This could mean anything from a Bloody Mary bar to unique pizza toppings.

If you’re looking to get a piece of the millennial pie, get in touch with an Ohio restaurant supplier today. At RDP foodservice, our experts can offer menu recommendations, restaurant consulting and more. Contact us today to meet our team.

Photo Credit: Jonas Merian via Flickr

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