ACTIONABLE RESEARCH ON GEN Z AND MILLENNIALS
Millennial Foodies Sound Off: The 16 Biggest Food Trends They’re Interested In

Millennial Foodies Sound Off: The 16 Biggest Food Trends They’re Interested In

We asked 400 13-33-year-olds foodies to tell us the food trends they’ve been most interested in lately…

According to our recent monthly survey on young consumers’ food behaviors and interests, 42% of 13-33-year-olds, and 46% of 25-33-year-olds consider themselves foodies. As we’ve covered before, this generation’s passion for food has shifted industries and continues to create new opportunities.

Eater recently reported that while The Great Recession caused financial instability, it didn’t stop “foodie” culture. While dining-out expenditures dipped slightly between 2007 to 2008, they quickly rebounded in 2012, even though income levels had not. Although Millennials especially felt the effects of the recession, they have been linked to the “sustainability of the ‘foodie’ ideology.” To get through the financial crises, young consumers opted to spend on experiences instead of expensive material goods like houses or cars. As a result, food has become a  new status symbol and a form of social currency.  

There is plenty of evidence that shows that young consumers have shaped food culture as we know it, and continue to fuel the trends that are remaking the food industry. To find out what food shifts brands might need to know about next, we asked 400 Millennial foodies to tell us the biggest food trend they’ve been interested in recently. It’s worth noting that these are self-identified foodies, and the fact that almost half of 13-33-year-olds consider themselves a foodie says something about the mainstreaming of food culture. While some Millennial and teen foodies are undoubtedly aware of some cutting edge trends, the most-mentioned food trends are more likely those that are a bit more mainstream—or about to go mainstream. These are the trends that brands should be considering when they are marketing not just to the niche-food fanatics, but young consumers with a passion for food overall. Here are the top 16 responses we got:

  1. Food Trucks
  2. Vegetarian/Vegan
  3. Organic
  4. Southwestern/Mexican
  5. Natural/Clean Eating
  6. Overall Healthy Eating
  7. Burgers
  8. Social Media Food/Recipes
  9. Recipe Videos
  10. Doughnuts
  11. Home cooking
  12. Viral Foods
  13. Bowls
  14. Fusion Cuisines
  15. Ramen
  16. Sushi Burritos 

Though hardly cutting edge (as several respondents pointed out) food trucks still reign supreme as the big food trend they’re interested in right now. One college student explained, “They are not a recent trend; however, there are several food trucks around the campus at my school. I was hesitant to try them at first but they quickly became my favorite places to eat.” A few respondents were specifically talking about food truck events or rallys. Regardless, there’s good reason we still see branded food trucks at events like SXSW and Coachella—the trend has proven it has staying power. When we asked all 13-33-year-olds about food trends they had tried, 50% said they had tried food trucks.

Several of the trends toward the top of the list concern young consumers concern for healthy eating, which we have discussed is responsible for trends like healthifying fast food, juice cleanses, and more. Their views of healthy eating have shifted to be more about natural, organic ingredients than calorie counting and fat-cutting. Revenue of organic foods doubled between 2003 and 2014. As we predicted earlier this year, clean eating is a growing trend—a browse of BuzzFeed reveals post after post on eating clean, and Instagram is full of recipes and photos of #superfoods and other nutritious and wholesome dishes. More brands will need to adjust to the idea that for these consumers, dieting doesn’t necessarily mean low-cal, and eating “natural” is becoming a priority for more and more.

Interestingly, social and online media’s impact on food culture is clear when looking at their top trend list. Social media food pictures and recipes and online recipe videos both made the top ten list here. Online food content has become big business. BuzzFeed Tasty, their food entertainment division, has become “its own BuzzFeed,” averaging 360 million users monthly. Vice media recently admitted that they’re creating more branded food content because of demand. Many respondents also mentioned foods that had gone viral online—like rainbow bagels, raindrop cake, ramen burgers, cronuts, and black tap milkshakes—hinting at social’s ability to make single food items “famous” and in-demand.