From meticulous gardens to slaughterhouses, the nature of food—how we cook it, grow it, raise it, eat it, buy it, and organize it, has changed over the last 50 years. Centuries ago mankind relied on agriculture and communities raised their livestock, grew town crops. Those were the days when women were the house-proud and the kitchen was considered as the center of the house. Soon in the 60s, technology invaded the kitchens and fridges began to appear in households. Also, during this period the food changed, and it looked decorative. Gradually the 70s saw a rise in convenience foods and highly processed foods. One of the reasons for this was during this period nearly 50% of women were working and hence preferred takeaways or processed foods.
The rest is history. It did not take much time for all the processed food to catch up on our waistline. Burdened by this, evolved a group of conscious eaters, who preferred ‘healthy food option’ and then took off the era of Diet Coke. This was the scenario of the US during the 1980s. Fast forward to the 2019s, the entire world had gone fat-free, shifted to customized food, more and more food delivery outlets and other humongous change have occurred in the food industry.
The consumers today are increasingly diet conscious. However, here diet consciousness is not glued up to just ‘healthy’ food options but, towards clean eating also. It means people today are more mindful of the food’s pathway, starting from its origin to our plates. So, what happened in between?
One word, Millennials. What has happened to the food industry has a lot to do with how we today live, think and process. The food preferences of the people today decide what one will find in what you’ll find in grocery stores and restaurants. According to a survey, the number of millennials in the workforce is higher than before and as a result, the consumer choices are changing.
For instance, today as everyone has access to every information, people are more curious about the process included with the manufacturing of food. Hence, consumers today want to know the truth from food manufactures. Food producers have started to listen to the rising demands for transparency about ingredients and sources. Clearly, this request is driven by millennials who want to know more about their food and how it is being made.
Let us further dig into how the millennials have changed the food industry.
Convenience Over comfort
Millennials are probably the busiest people alive as they are constantly juggling between work and life. Under this high stress, no matter how much they love eating, these young people are looking for convenience and ease, sometimes (only) even trumping taste. Hence, they give priority to options that help them get food easier and even faster. Starting from food delivery apps, to subscriptions, they take up any option before them.
Food Customization is here to stay
Call it a trend innovated by the millennials. They no longer prefer the blunt looking burger that everyone orders. If they prefer personalization or a different flavor that is what they will get. The people walk into a restaurant with a belief that they are paying for the food, hence it may as well be exactly what they want.
The changed definition of ‘Healthy food’
Long gone are the days when the millennials spent most of their time eating junk food. Today, they are keener on eating healthy. However, their idea of health food is not just limited to low-fat foods. It goes beyond that. Vegetables have now become an integral part of their diet, hence, there is now a rise in buying more organic food than processed. This rise in veganism is another indication of their eating habit, which now includes more plant and seed-based food.
But, what will happen in 2020 and beyond?
All the above-mentioned incidents are already in practice. The actual question here is how will this tradition change the food industry in 2020, now that these millennials have become ‘millennial parents’. Will it result in a generation that has a whole new prescriptive of healthy food and would again change the eating habits? What will drive the upcoming food trends and what new ingredients or cuisines will set the internet ablaze? One thing is certain that while all the aforesaid points will exist, there might also be slight alterations and upgradations to it. Also, let’s not forget about technology, it will definitely play a bigger role than the previous decade.