Consumers are over the prepackaged foods of the past, and many are demanding healthier and fresher options.
A movement led by millennials
Though it’s certainly a multi-generational shift, more millennials are more responsible for these changes than any other generation.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers report from 2016 showed that 47 percent of the 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed had changed their eating habits toward a healthier diet. Of those 55 and over, only about 23 percent of them reported eating healthier.
Part of this is taking place in the grocery store, but millennials are taking serious heat for changing the restaurant industry.
The demise of “casual dining”
Millennials are responsible for “killing” chain restaurants such as Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, opting for faster and fresher options instead.
Brands such as Chili’s, Ruby Tuesdays and TGI Fridays don’t appeal as much to millennials anymore. Online grocery shopping, meal-delivery kit services, and healthy fast-food options are on the rise, making it difficult for these chain restaurants to stay afloat.
With Amazon acquiring Whole Foods and meal delivery services popping up left and right, it’s easier than ever for millennials to cook healthy food at home.
Even when eating out, millennials want to make healthier choices. Fast-casual chains such as Sweetgreen and Chipotle are increasingly popular, offering customers quicker, cheaper meals with better ingredients.
Applebee’s is infamous for heavy dishes, such as their 1240-calorie whisky bacon burger, and although my order at Chipotle is still a 745 calorie endeavor, the difference seems to be transparency.
Chipotle boasts a nutrition calculator and information about what goes into all of their ingredients, so even if it isn’t always healthier, it feels healthier.
Detoxing the grocery store
As Forbes said, “good, healthy food makes millennials happy,” so it’s no surprise that they don’t want foods with processed ingredients.
People who can afford it are shifting toward fresher items, and customers that can’t afford organic brands are saving money and going for generic store brands. This split means there’s no longer a middle-ground market for products that aren’t healthy but still come with a brand name price-hike, such as Kraft Mac and Cheese.
Big brands such as Kellogg’s and General Mills have fallen into the background since health food took the spotlight. On the other end, younger companies such as Chobani and Annie’s Homegrown have flourished, cornering sections of the grocery store with their healthy reputations.
Even though some bigger companies have removed their artificial ingredients, they haven’t been able to rid themselves of their processed-food reputations. Big names fell behind in the health-food race, and many are still scrambling to make their own versions of healthy products.
The changes are sometimes as small as making a favorite product gluten-free, but it’s clear that food giants are now trying to meet consumer demands.
Millennials may be haunted by their love for avocado toast, but they’re embracing it. Millennials are America’s largest generation, and they’re using that power to support healthier products than their parents.
More and more consumers are demanding healthy foods and exploring cleaner, more eco-friendly options. This trend is undoubtedly a good thing, for both personal and environmental health.
Millennials are demanding that companies accommodate their preferences, and that’s why Applebee’s and Hamburger Helper are becoming relics of an unhealthy past.
It’s not a personal attack; society is just on a health kick.
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