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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

The Battle Between Millennials and Nutrition

The food on the table is under intense scrutiny as history never saw before. As in every other industry, millennials, with their totally different perspective, are making their presence felt in the food industry too. In fact, they may well propel the natural food industry into the next generation. They appear to abide by the words of entrepreneurial expert Famoosh Brock who said, “Juices of fruits and vegetables are pure gifts from Mother Nature and the most natural way to heal your body and make yourself whole again.”

Millennials believe food cannot be pushed over as merely “something to eat.” For them, it is an experience, an adventure, if you will, that has fueled speculation they are obsessed with food. As a generation that values experiences above material possessions, 76% of millennials look upon their daily food intake as “satisfying hunger for new experiences.”

In their search for gastronomical adventures, millennials look beyond the known, to engage with multiculturalism and to sample diverse flavors of ethnic and artisan cuisine. “The typical Gen Y eater swoons over unusual food forms, flavor profiles tweaked with unexpected or dramatic twists and of course, vivid global cuisines, especially when they blend fresh and spicy,” say researchers from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD). While 72% of millennials admit they are constantly seeking new ethnic food experiences, Datassenntial, the Chicago-based food industry market research organization finds 52% of millennials try out a new food preparation at a restaurant at least once a month.

Even as Millennials love good food, they enjoy making their own meals, in their own kitchens. At the same time, they value speed and convenience. They find it tedious seeking out recipes, finding the right ingredients and weighing the correct amount. Instead, they prefer seeking out delivery apps that will get them the food they wish to eat, correctly weighed and neatly packeted, complete with the recipe they choose to try. They just have to follow recipes, to make exotic, flavorful food in minutes. And best of all, there is no messy preparation and hours of toiling in the kitchen, washing and cutting ingredients. It is all in the package, accurately measured and labeled and user-friendly to the ultimate. Numerous websites are available (take HelloFresh for example) which facilitate this process.

The food industry, like other consumer-oriented industries, is heavily into analyzing the consumption habits and purchasing trend of millennials, for very good reason. As Lori Colman, the Co-CEO of Chicago-based CBD Marketing, said, “(Millennials) are one-fourth of the population and represent $10 trillion in lifetime buying power.”

There is another characteristic that sharply distinguishes Millennials from other preceding generations. Colman says, “Millennials share their opinions and buying habits online via social media platforms and on other sites. Businesses and brands that mine this treasure trove of online data will be the ones that market their products successfully.”

Indeed, as the first generation of digital natives who grew up with the Internet and smartphones, Millennials are constantly sharing information with like-minded users on social media platforms. They inquire about different experiences others have had and unhesitatingly and frankly share their own experiences. They are the “C” generation or the “Connected Generation.” Co-founder of Intuit, Scott Cook, said, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.”

As Internet research drives them, Millennials are increasingly propelled into healthy eating.  A recent PricewaterhouseCooper report said that nearly half (47%) of the participants of the 18-34 age group had changed their diet to eating healthy, unlike 23% of the over 55 group.The report also finds that “healthy eating” has a trend-based definition with millennials, such as “high protein” or “high vitamin:” Older participants used more traditional definitions such as “low fat” to describe healthy eating.

The Millennial addiction to being connected is what has made them keenly aware of the need to eat healthy. They read online and share on social media platforms, the health consequences of eating fast food, and refined sugars and drinking soda. They find on their mobile phones, information on eating healthy and share it around for opinion. As American actor Keegan Allen said, “Sorry, I don’t eat any fast food. I believe in eating healthy organic foods for a better lifestyle.”

Eating healthy for millennials,is synonymous with organic food that is eco-friendly, enhances animal welfare and farmer livelihoods The Organic Trade Association says  52% of organic consumers are millennials. The Millennials have also increased their per capital intake of fresh vegetables by 52% over the previous generation. There is no doubt, millennials value what they put in their bodies. As Amanda Kraft said, “When you start eating food without labels, you no longer need to count calories.” It appears that an overwhelming number of millennials – 40% of them – are containing their diet to plant-based food.

Even as they are intrigued and enamored by gastronomical adventures, and delight in satisfying their taste buds, Millennials are careful to the extreme and scrutinize food labels before they buy. They appear to follow the thought trend of Ann Wigmore who said, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”

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