The influence of Millennials and the growing Hispanic population in the U.S., along with aging Boomers, will have a major impact on the country's eating behaviors throughout the next five years, according to a new study by The NPD Group.
The influence of Boomers and older on eating patterns will fade as their households and populations shrink, and the impact of Generation Z (ages 0-23) and Millennials (ages 24-37), which made up more than half of the U.S. population in 2013, will significantly increase, according to NPD's recently released "The Future of Eating: Who's Eating What in 2018?"
The study provides a 5-year forecast for food and beverage trends. NPD's news release highlighting the report said Gen Z and Millennials are driving changes such as wanting more involvement — not necessarily more complexity — in preparing their meals, especially at breakfast.
Breakfast foods that are perceived to be fresher and require more prep or cooking, such as eggs, hot cereal and center plate proteins, are projected to grow by 8 percent over the next five years. Use of additives is expected to grow among Generation Z and Millennial groups by 9 and 8 percent respectively throughout the next five years.
Additionally, U.S. Hispanics, which make up a large percentage of the Generation Z and Millennial groups, will also continue to grow. NPD's research suggests those born in the U.S. will continue to prepare and cook traditional Latino foods. The consumption of Hispanic foods, excluding frozen, is forecast to increase by 7 percent within the next five years among U.S. Hispanic Millennials. This group's preference is also for foods that are fresh and natural and that enable the cook to control the flavoring of the end product, the release said.
On the other end of the age spectrum, the Baby Boomer generation is aging, considering retirement, becoming empty nesters, and developing health ailments, all of which are typically associated with major changes in how food and beverage consumption is approached. While shrinking in size, this generation is still too large to ignore especially given their expected changes, NPD said. This group will be driven by what they need to sustain their health and lifestyles: Whole grains, protein and calcium, and reduced saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium will be important to this group in the near term.
"Generation Z, Millennials, and Hispanics will be the growth drivers of this country's eating patterns over the next five years," said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. "This is a pivotal time for manufacturers and retailers to gain their favor as many of their habits are being formed now. Most are still at a life stage when their behaviors are flexible and they are receptive."