The Foodie Generations
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Millennial and Gen Z consumers have high expectations for the flavors and experiences they get from restaurants.

Restaurant and foodservice operators can’t afford to ignore the tastes of millennial (born 1981-1996) and Gen Z (born 1997-2012) consumers, who make up over 40 percent of the U.S. population. But what are their tastes?


Painting generations in large strokes always comes with faults, and that’s particularly true for the mostly adolescent Gen Zers. Nevertheless, some important patterns have emerged in the eating habits of these two demographics that can inform menu R&D. Let’s take a look at what’s most important to both generations when it comes to what they’re putting in their stomachs. 


Easy Eating 

Generation Z is the first digitally native generation, while millennials have also lived much of their lives with a cellphone in hand. Unsurprisingly, their access to technology has resulted in a higher expectation for convenience. 


This expectation has only increased with the surge of off-premises services during the COVID-19 pandemic. 53 percent of millennials are more likely to choose a restaurant if they can purchase an adult beverage with their takeout or delivery order. They also enjoy a more convenient way to cook meals. Take-home meal kits have been a big hit with millennials and Gen Zers, with 75 percent in favor of ordering them. Restaurants should continue with carryout and delivery options and experiment with different technologies to add convenience. 


Sustainable Snacking

Restaurants and other foodservice establishments interested in bringing in a younger clientele should up their snack game. But they can’t be just any snacks. The environment and health are top of mind for many millennial and Gen Z consumers. A study found that 79 percent of Gen Zers would eat meatless meals once or twice a week. Nutrient density as well as consuming organic and plant-based foods are among the top priorities for millennials when deciding what to eat. 


To give these generations the quick, tasty, meatless bite they crave, include vegetable-forward small bites on the carryout menu. Items like cauliflower bites and sliders with meat alternatives are perfect for consumers to pick up and eat on the go. Package it up in eco-friendly, reusable containers.


Appetizing Adventure 

Millennials and Gen Zers are much more racially diverse than previous generations, and their diets reflect both their own cultural backgrounds and their interest in exploring more cultures. Parents report that their Gen Z children under 18 aren’t just reaching for chicken nuggets but enjoying Indian, African, and Middle Eastern fare. 


Incorporating yuzu kosho from Japan, garam masala from India, biltong from South Africa, and other international ingredients will grab the attention of millennials and Gen Zers seeking new flavors. But chefs don’t have to stray too far abroad. These generations still enjoy fries, pizza, and other comfort foods. Elevating these dishes with global flavors will win over a younger crowd.


Your Sourcing Solution 

The younger generations of foodies want a lot from restaurants. At Dot Foods, we have global flavors, plant-based ingredients, carryout containers, and everything else operators need to inject youth into their menus. Source these items and more all from one place.


Get with the times—explore trending flavors that will appeal to millennials and Gen Zers.