Millennial consumers show a high demand for fresh produce and convenience in food purchases compared with other generations but are lagging in grocery store visits.
In a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, “Food Purchase Decisions of Millennial Households Compared to Other Generations,” economists Annemarie Kuhns and Michelle Saksena also said that wealthier millennial households tend to buy more unprocessed ingredients such as fruits and vegetables at the expense of processed foods and starchy carbohydrates like pasta.
“When partitioning by income per capita, fruit expenditure shares for millennials essentially matched those of traditionalists (those born before 1946), who allocate the largest share to fruits,” the report said.
As millennials become richer, they spend more of their food at home purchases on vegetables. That suggests, the report said, that millennials may have a stronger preference for fruits and vegetables compared to older generations.
In addition, the authors said the research results suggest millennials have a stronger preference for fruits and vegetables and less for white and red meat than other generations.
“Overall, millennials have an increasing appetite for fruits and vegetables as income rises and allocate less to animal proteins, though there is a positive relationship between income and red meat,” the report said.
The study said millennials spend the largest budget shares of any generation on ready-to-eat food, They also spend less money overall on food at home and make fewer trips to the grocery store. According to the study, millennials made 5.33 trips to the food store per month in 2014, compared 6.27 trips by gen-X shoppers, 7.33 trips for baby boomers and 7.78 trips each month for traditionalists.
“Millennials’ emphasis on convenience is in line with their pattern of higher food-away-from-home consumption, perhaps indicating they have become accustomed to consuming foods requiring minimal preparation effort,” according to a report summary.
The study looked at spending patterns of traditionalists, baby boomers (born 1946-65), gen-X’ers (born 1965-80) and Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996).
“In addition, younger generations may increasingly prefer to eat outside the home, with reduced food store trips only becoming more prominent as per capita income rises,” according to the summary.
With rising incomes, foodservice purchases may crowd out meals at home.
The report said millennials consume food in a restaurant or bar around 30% more often than any other generation.