Millennials pioneered foodie culture as we know it today, complete with rainbow bagels, food festivals, and celebrity chefs—all of which was amplified by social media. While it’s been assumed that Gen Z would follow in their foodie footsteps, the younger generation is taking a different approach to food. Despite living their lives on social media and growing up in a time when food became a status symbol, Gen Z just aren’t eating up foodie culture the way Millennials have. For many of them, food is just food, and perfectly plated dishes are more likely to inspire an eye roll than a pang of hunger.
YPulse explored Gen Z’s relationship to food in our new trend report, The End of Foodie Culture (As We Know It), which makes the divide between Gen Z and Millennials clear. But how does this compare across regions? After all, food has always been a cornerstone of culture in Western Europe, long before Millennials made restaurants and dishes go viral. So does that mean Gen Z in Western Europe are less likely to be rejecting foodie culture?
While our data shows that the divide between Gen Z and Millennials exists in both regions, when we compare Gen Z in Western Europe and North America, it’s clear that European Gen Z are taking a slightly different stance than their peers across the pond. Here are three stats that tell the story:
European Gen Z are more passionate about food
For Gen Z in Western Europe, food is still a part of who they are. Sure, they’re 17pts less likely than Millennials to say that they use food to express themselves, but the fact is almost half still do—and they’re +6pts more likely than North American Gen Z to do so. More than that, 33% of European Gen Z say they consider food a passion compared to just 23% of North American Gen Z, meaning food is more likely to be part of how they define themselves.
Interestingly, European Gen Z are slightly less likely to consider themselves a foodie (51% vs 54%). But there are a few reasons for this divide. First of all, for Gen Z in the region, being passionate about food goes beyond trends. As previously mentioned, food has always been important in Western European culture, and these consumers don’t need a label to feel passionate about it. And though Millennial-style foodie culture did of course reach Western European shores, the fact that food was already central to young Europeans’ lives means that culture had less room to grow. In other words, it wasn’t quite as cringy in Western Europe, and Gen Z in the region agree: just 35% tell YPulse Millennial foodie culture is cringy compared to 46% of North American Gen Z. And we see this attitude reflected in their relationship with food on their feeds, too…
They’re more likely to see food as social media-worthy
Social media was the driving force behind Millennial foodie culture, and Instagram-worthy shots of trending restaurants and delectable dishes became social currency for the older generation. This isn’t quite the case for Gen Z: in North America, the younger generation is 14pts less likely than Millennials to say they’ve posted a photo or video of food in social media, and European Gen Z are 12pts less likely than their older counterparts. In other words, Millennials are still leading the social media food landscape.
But that said, Gen Z in Western Europe are 9pts more likely than North American Gen Z to have posted food-related content on social media, meaning they’re more likely to see food as social media-worthy—and to be engaging with Millennial-style food content. While Gen Z in North America are leaning toward messier, more realistic food content, European Gen Z still wants to see shots of perfectly plated dishes: 45% say they would rather see a beautiful photo of food than a fun video about food (compared to 36% in North America) and 68% would rather eat food that is Instagram-worthy than TikTok-worthy (compared to 53% in North America).
They’re eating out less and cooking more
In both regions, Gen Z is dining out far less than Millennials. But when comparing across regions, North American Gen Z are eating out a lot more than their European counterparts: the former reports dining out around 122 times per year while European Gen Z say they do so about 88 times per year. Gen Z in Western Europe are also less likely to say they’re eating at a variety of restaurants, from casual dining spots to coffeehouses (though you might be surprised to hear they’re more likely to say they’re eating at fast food joints). Instead, this demographic is opting to eat in: they’re 8pts more likely than North American Gen Z to say they would rather cook at home than go out.
Part of this could have to do with the fact that European Gen Z are consuming more food-related content on social media. In fact, 48% of Gen Z in Western Europe say they’ve cooked a meal that was trending on social media compared to 40% of North American Gen Z, and 35% say they want to see food content from influencers compared to 27% in North America. For brands, this means that European Gen Z may be more open to food marketing on social media—but also that it should focus more on practical tips and recipes that they can cook at home.