What are the biggest food trends of 2019? Gen Z and Millennial foodies told us what they’re most interested in…
From their favorite things to eat to Instagrammable food trends, we write a lot about young consumers and food. But it’s with good reason. Food is one of their biggest passions and biggest hobbies. It’s the top thing they don’t mind splurging on. According to Eater, even grocery stores—like Wegmans and Publix—are gaining cult followings with young shoppers. Gen Z and Millennials are the ones driving the food trends that are reshaping brands. So we always want to know what their newest culinary obsessions are. In our recent Food Shopping & Trends survey, we asked the 52% of young consumers who consider themselves foodies to tell us the biggest food trend they’re interested in right now. Their responses were varied, and revealed many unique food items to keep an eye on, including moon milk, cheese tea, low intervention wine, and bubble waffles. The trend mukbang was mentioned by several respondents, who are tuning in to watch live videos of online personalities (or just regular people) eat, along with other mentions that pointed to food tours and travel focused on cuisine as big interests.
But those weren’t the most mentioned food trends. Here’s the ranking of what they’re most interested in:
The Biggest Food Trends They’re Interested In
Keto / Low Carb
Vegan / Vegetarian
Avocado / Avocado toast
Healthy / Fresh foods
Low or Free diets
Organic / Natural food
Rolled ice cream
*These were open-end response questions to allow us to capture the full range of food trends that 13-36-year-olds who identify as foodies are interested in trying—without our preconceived ideas getting in the way. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The list is ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.
As a whole, their food trend list is a clear representation of young consumers’ healthy-ish ways. Diet trends and clean eating habits top the list, but indulgences like burgers, pizza (their favorite thing to eat), and rolled ice cream are also in the top 15 ranking. That said, the trends that these young consumers are most interested in are decidedly on the healthy end of the spectrum. While “specialty diets” made the list in 2018, this year there were so many specific mentions of the Keto diet that it took the number one spot, and low or free diets (as in low-sugar, or gluten-free) came in at number five. Clearly, limiting their intake of ingredients that have been deemed unhealthy (gluten, carbs, sugar, etc.) is a strong trend. While we often have to remind brands that young consumers aren’t eating all healthy all the time, it is very clear that they are interested in their health—and, of course, the way they look.
Once again, vegan/vegetarian foods were second in the ranking. But interestingly, when we ask young consumers how many are following vegan or vegetarian diets, only 6% describe themselves as vegetarian and 4% as vegan. Instead, Gen Z and Millennials who aren’t eating a meat-free diet all the time are showing increased interest in dabbling in plant-based meals. Ad Age reports that it’s flexitarians, not vegans, who are driving the fake meat trend, and the percent of people that told the Gallup Poll they’re vegetarian hasn’t risen since 2012, and is only up 1% for veganism. Fake meat sales still can’t hold a candle to real meat revenue but have more than doubled from 2013 to $1.4 billion last year. Now, food giants like White Castle, Burger King, and McDonald’s are adding fake meat to their menus, taking the trend even further.
Avocado and avocado toast remain popular, staying in the top food trend ranking. In fact, 29% of all 13-36-year-olds tell us they have tried avocado toast, an increase from 2018, and an indication that the trend is still relevant—even as it has become a clichéd representation of Millennials as a generation. Yes, even all those avocado toast jokes can’t stop them from loving avocado.
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