Viewing the food industry through the eyes of Gen Z

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Viewing the food industry through the eyes of Gen Z

Global, Market Insights

Viewing the food industry through the eyes of Gen Z


The food industry is set to really shake things up by upscaling Generation Z, the cohort following Millennials, born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s.

Compared to Millennials (also known as Generation Y or Gen Y), Gen Z has a decidedly different set of values, presenting challenges for food companies to adapt to the tastes and desires of this emerging consumer population. The overarching task is how to pique the interest and grab the attention of this new group. Food marketers cannot rely on the power and image of their brands anymore, because Gen Z does not particularly care about brands like previous generations do. They are more focused on the quality, functionality and flavour of products.

With busy lifestyles and multiple gigs, the members of Gen Z tend to skip traditional sit-down meals, opting instead for several different eating experiences which come with either snacking or convenient meals. Next to taste, one of the most important criteria for snacking is portability, according to NPD’s The Future of Snacking report. For Gen Z, if you can’t easily take a snack with you, it’s not really a snack. Besides portability, snacks should include essential nutrients and provide health benefits, keeping Gen Z’ers energized throughout the day. Ideal protein-rich snacks include: nuts, seeds and cheese (check our ebook for snacking insights).

Spending half a day in the kitchen to cook up a meal is not an option for Gen Z. Based on the Packaged Facts report, they prefer the simplicity of easy-to-prepare meals. Microwave dinners, frozen breakfasts, and sandwiches or dry packaged dinners with mixes and kits are the favoured choices for the hungry and on-the-go Gen Z’er.

According to David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, "There exists ample opportunity for food marketers of frozen prepared meals, canned soups, potato chips, and other canned and packaged prepared food such as salads and desserts, to convert adults under the age of 25 into loyal lifelong customers." Cooking made easy is the key here. Fresh or frozen packaged products that can quickly go from shelf to oven have huge potential. 

When selling convenient meals, quality must be seriously considered and cannot be sacrificed in any way for the sake of convenience or portability. Indeed, Gen Z is super health-conscious, with many of them being vegetarians or vegans. They tend to choose organic and natural foods, while shunning artificial additives and chemical preservatives.

Gen Z is a market that cannot imagine a world without the Internet so they are constantly switched on and using restaurants apps, as well as home delivery. In December 2018, foodservice delivery for Gen Z reached 552 million, just a million lower than Millennials. Clearly, Gen Z is booming and food companies that are capable of meeting and adapting to their needs, sooner rather than later, will enjoy a bigger piece of this tasty consumer market cake.