Millennial influence grows inside, outside industry

01/17/2014 09:41:00 AM
Garland Perkins

Garland Perkins, The Oppenheimer GroupGarland Perkins, The Oppenheimer GroupWhen it comes to consumers, “millennials,” the term given to people ages 14-31, are a demographic that is becoming increasingly valuable.

Numerous industries are emphasizing the need for a thorough understanding of the lifestyle and tendencies of this generation. In fact, the baby boomer generation, who has long had the consumer spotlight, is now outnumbered by millennials.

According to Advertising Age, millennials are expected to spend more than $200 billion each year starting in 2017, a buying power that will undoubtedly influence the produce industry.

I’m a millennial myself, and food is a topic that is often discussed with my peers, many of whom have an increasing interest in the origin of their food, its health benefits, preparation techniques and the like.

From frequenting farmers markets, to touting the nutritional content of a particular item, to wanting to know their farmer, food is something that has a tangible presence in the culture of today’s younger generation.

With this in mind, it seems prudent and an industrywide benefit to gain more insight on millennials’ food-related thoughts and tendencies, particularly when it comes to produce.

By increasing the fruit and vegetable intake of this specific consumer segment, a dramatic effect could be made on increasing consumption overall.

To illustrate this, one only has to look to the perception of brussels sprouts — a previously lackluster vegetable that has evolved into one of the hottest culinary trends, particularly among young adults.

Instagram, the predominant smartphone app for posting pictures, has more than 70,000 pictures tagged with the hashtag descriptor #brusselsprouts. This is merely one of numerous hashtags that will retrieve thousands of brussels sprouts images with a quick search.

It is likely that millennials posted the bulk of these images. According to Pew Research, 43% of Instagram’s users are ages 18-29. When compared to older users, these younger Instagramers are even more likely to post pictures.

This is a single example out of many I hope to highlight in this column.

It displays the extent to which food has penetrated the culture of millennials, and that we use several media to converse about it.

To that end, the objective for this column is threefold.

 

  • I hope to initiate a conversation among the generations, resulting in an exchange of wisdom, passion, ideas, and solutions between produce industry veterans and millennials.

  • Secondly, I aim to serve as a voice for the millennials, particularly those working in the industry, to provide a venue for posting questions and contributing new perspectives.

  • I hope to address compelling and thought provoking topics pertaining to millennials and the numerous aspects in which this demographic affects the produce industry.

 

Above all, I hope this pursuit contributes in some manner to the movement for increasing produce consumption.

Last year, an article featured in USA Today credited “a new generation of eaters” (millennials) with bolstering the growing trend for restaurants incorporating more vegetables into their menus.

We can only hope a similar development will be repeated many times over in the retail sector, and that while it’s occurring, we in the produce industry know the exact catalyst(s) responsible for the sizable shift.

A Facebook page, Produce From A Millennial, and Twitter account, Produce_Millennial (@produce_Mfactor), have been set up to facilitate a discussion about the topics covered in this column each month. In the meantime — are you a member of the produce industry who has experiential wisdom to impart to younger people breaking into the business?

Or are you a millennial with an opinion on produce?

Either way, let’s talk.

Garland Perkins writes a monthly column on the produce industry from the millennial perspective. She works in sales and marketing for The Oppenheimer Group in its Los Angeles office.

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