It turns out that Americans are eating their fruits and vegetables, and younger adults, including the Millennial generation, are the main drivers of the shift toward fresh foods and beverages, according to The NPD Group, a leading global information company. The percent of all in-home eating occasions that include fresh foods, like fruit and vegetables, is almost back to levels seen 30 years ago.
Over the past decade, adults, ages 18 to 34, have increased their consumption of fresh food the most out of all age groups. The element of surprise with this consumption trend is that Millennials are in a life stage when people typically consume lower quantities of fresh items in favor of more time-saving and convenient options.
Millennials’ increased interest in fresh may be explained in part by their reactions to the Great Recession when it was in full grip, Darren Seifer, NPD’s food and beverage industry analyst, said in a press release. Younger adults were hit hardest by unemployment, and although this age group is considered the heaviest restaurant users, they pulled back the most from going out to restaurants. It seems these adults still wanted many of the properties that restaurants provided — among them, freshness with speed.
“As Millennials returned to their homes to source more of their meals, they spent a little more time in the kitchen to make dishes like eggs/omelets, pancakes, vegetables/legumes and rice,” Seifer said in the release. “This doesn’t mean they are becoming chefs or that they even enjoy spending time in the kitchen. In fact, Millennials account for more than their fair share of rice cooker sales, meaning they want fresh rice with their meals without having to hover over a saucepan for 30 minutes.”
The notion of convenience for the younger generations seems to be focused on freshness, while at the same time, getting out of the kitchen quickly, he said. In contrast, previous generations considered frozen options to be convenient.