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PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. -- Eating behaviors among U.S. consumers will evolve substantially over the next five years, as Baby Boomers continue to age, Generation Z and Millennials enter a new life stage, and the Hispanic population continues to grow, according to market researcher The NPD Group.
The influence of Boomers and older consumers on eating patterns will fade as their households and populations shrink. Meanwhile, the impact of Generation Z (aged zero to 23) and Millennials (aged 24 to 37), which together comprised more than half of the U.S. population in 2013, will significantly increase, according to NPD’s newly released study, The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018?
Generation Z and Millennials are driving changes among food choices and preparation, including more involvement, but not necessarily more complexity, in preparing their food and meals, particularly at breakfast, the NPD study finds. In fact, breakfast foods that are perceived to be fresher and require more prep or cooking, like eggs, hot cereal and center-plate proteins, are projected to grow by 8 percent over the next five years.
The growing U.S. Hispanic population will continue to prepare and cook traditional Latino foods, with the consumption of Hispanic foods forecast to increase by 7 percent over the next five years among U.S. Hispanic Millennials, according to the research.
“Generation Z, Millennials and Hispanics will be the growth drivers of this country’s eating patterns over the next five years,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for Port Washington-based NPD. “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.”
On the other end of the age spectrum, the Baby Boomer generation is aging, which is also typically associated with major changes in how food and beverage consumption is approached. This group will be less driven by the latest fad and more by what they need to sustain their health and lifestyles. Whole grains, protein and calcium, or low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium will be important to younger and older Boomer groups now and in the coming years, NPD noted.