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Gen Z young adults have been caught up in the change in America's food culture that has moved consumers away from three sit-down meals at fixed times and in the direction of multiple eating experiences that occur throughout the day. According to Packaged Facts, as a result, young adults aged 18–24 are more likely than their Millennial predecessors to say they often snack between meals (74% versus 66%). When they do slowdown to prepare a meal, Gen Z young adults are much more likely to prefer simple, easy-to-prepare meals (58% versus 40%).
The findings were published in the Packaged Facts’ report “Looking Ahead to Gen Z: Demographic Patterns and Spending Trends.” Data from the report further reveal that households headed by adults aged 25 and younger are 29% more likely to eat shelf-to-microwave dinners and 26% more likely to eat frozen breakfast entrees/sandwiches. They also have a 23% higher likelihood of eating frozen (complete) TV dinners and are 10% more likely to eat dry packaged dinners, dinner mixes, and kits.
“Seemingly perpetually in motion, ubiquitously surrounded by limitless smartphone entertainment options, and frequently willing to work multiple jobs or side gigs, many Gen Z young adults are attracted to easy-to-prepare meals as well as snacking,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “Therefore, there exists ample opportunity for food marketers of frozen prepared meals, canned soups, potato chips, and other canned and packaged prepared food such as salads and desserts, to convert adults under the age of 25 into loyal lifelong customers.”
The major caveat for food industry players is that despite their heavy reliance on portable and convenient food options, Gen Z adults are surprisingly health conscious. Products must keep pace with the cohort’s nutritional preferences and demands. Compared to their Millennial counterparts a decade ago, Gen Z adults are more likely to look for organic or natural foods when they go food shopping and to prefer foods without artificial additives. They also are more likely to be vegetarians.