A new study entitled “Ethics on the Go” by Culinary Visions Panel’s Mindful Dining Initiative, finds millennials to be swayed by ethical practices when it comes to the production of portable foods. Consumers under the age of 35 were found to be significantly interested in food production methods, suggesting that millennial consumers place importance on the health of their bodies and the environment.
“From sustainable farming to free-range eggs, consumers do not want their dining choices to have unintended negative consequences,” says Sharon Olson, Executive Director of Culinary Visions Panel. “Whether it’s rewarding a company’s fair trade labor practices or their zero-waste policies, we found that Millennials are the most serious about ethically-sourced grab-and-go foods.”
The study surveyed 1500 American consumers on their thoughts on ethically sourced portable foods and how ethics affect their purchasing decisions. The report highlighted five things for food companies to consider when investing in ethical grab-and-go foods for millennials:
1. How Ethical Foods Can Open the Door to Younger Consumers
With the millennial demographic representing the largest segment of the US workforce with more than 80 million individuals in this category, they are not a consumer demographic to be ignored. Food manufacturers are constantly trying to get a hand in the $10 trillion dollars of lifetime spending power this popular demographic has.
Millennials, aged between 18 to 34, have been noted to be one of the most selective consumer demographics in the food space, which is why it is no surprise that the study found them to value ethical eating choices more than any other demographic. The results of this study found 60 percent of consumers under the age of 35 to prefer the taste of organic foods, whereas only 50 percent of the other generations agreed.
The study advises food manufacturers to learn more about ethical food production and invest in sustainable food suppliers in order to tailor their snack products for this demographic.
2. Ethical Foods Are “Popular”
Millennials may be the most digitally connected demographic in America, which makes them aware of the latest trends and news. With a continuous amount of information being uploaded onto the internet, millennials are a very aware consumer group. Through the prominence of social media, millennials share their thoughts and preferences with others who have similar mindsets. Ethically sourced foods are a popular topic for this demographic; in fact, 76 percent of survey respondents under 35 agree that ethical efforts made by restaurants are “trendy.”
3. There Are Not Enough Ethical Snacks Available in The Market
According to the study, 64 percent of millennials said that there are not enough ethically sourced snack options available and 57 percent of overall consumers agreed. This gives food companies an advantage in this market if they invest in producing unique, yet ethical, snacking options.
4. Millennials Are Willing to Pay More for Ethically Sourced Snacks
Investing in sustainability always comes with an added cost, however, millennials are willing to put their wallets where their mouths are. The study found 67 percent of millennial consumers willing to pay premium prices for ethically sourced snacks. About 55 percent of all consumers agreed to pay extra as well. In addition, at a global scale, Nielson found 75 percent of millennial respondents from their “Sustainability Imperative” study to be willing to pay more for sustainable products.
By tapping into this sustainability desire, food companies can produce premium ethically sourced snack products with out worrying about modest added costs.
5. Preferences for Plant-Based
Though consumers still enjoy meat products, 88 percent of all survey respondents said that they would like to incorporate more plant-based foods in their diets.
Specifically, food companies should look into plant-based protein as an ingredient for grab-and-go snack options. With the global sales of plant-based protein forecasted to reach $5 billion in sales, this segment offers a lot of opportunity for food companies.
In terms of values and sustainability, millennials are positioned as the most value-driven demographic in the food industry. With their significant buying power and influence, food companies cannot afford to miss out on profits from this demographic. By investing in sustainability, food manufacturers are likely to attract more consumers under 35, thus increasing their product sales.