Gen-Y: mashed, baked, with ramen noodles, spuds OK - The Packer

Gen-Y: mashed, baked, with ramen noodles, spuds OK

03/20/2014 02:43:00 PM
Chris Koger

KogerCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Until recently, I was unaware of these people called millennials, probably because they were mostly referred to as “Gen-Y.” Because they’re the target demographic of just about everything sold these days, produce companies are using new ways of reaching millennials. That’s social media, for the most part: contests using Pinterest, enticements to like products on Facebook, pleas to shoot and upload pics to websites.

Thanks to the U.S. Potato Board, which presented research on millennials during its annual meeting March 10-13, I’m well aware of what makes this group — roughly anyone born between the late 80s and early 2000s — tick. A six-member panel of millennials on March 14 reinforced many of those survey findings.

But if the informal panel conversation proved anything it’s this — don’t expect millennials to behave in the same way. Responses were all over the board when moderator Kate Thomson of Sterling Rice Group, which is the board’s research consultant, posed questions to the group, identified only by first names.

An over-arching theme, as you might guess, is that processed food is bad, natural and organic is coveted and originality and an open mind to try something different is the norm.

Except in the cases where that’s not the norm.

Mat seemed to be the outlier, embracing all-you-can-eat buffets like Ci Ci’s, buying food at the Dollar Store and throwing fried potatos, ground beef and ramen noodles into a pan. All this from someone who attended culinary school.

Everyone brings their own background to the table, literally. Tristina, a mother, is mindful of her family budget and the time constraints raising children put on her meal choices: “When I shop with the kids, it’s all about speed ... If I don’t have the kids, I’ll go up and down every aisle to think about something I missed.”

AI enjoys Sundays, when the family gathers for international meals, which forces whoever’s cooking to learn new cuisines. But throughout the week, it’s mashed and baked potatoes. At one point, she referred to the Yukon Gold, but then followed it by referring to Idaho potatoes as “the small round potatoes,” causing some titters in the audience.

One of the potato board’s missions this year is to attack the false perception that potatoes aren’t healthy. In the case of these millennials, the USPB doesn’t have to worry.

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