‘Feel-good food’ is now a social currency for Gen Z

Gen Z group eating
Gen Zers are paying more attention to the source of foods they eat. Image: Bigstock.

Young Gen Zers aged 15 to 25 are actively looking for greater transparency on food and its origin, expecting brands to produce food that they feel good about eating, a recent study shows.

Australian Macadamia’s research found that young foodies in China are seeking out products, ingredients and restaurants they see as a positive choice while about 42 per cent of Australian Gen Zers said they were eating less meat or none at all.

In the US, 65 per cent of Gen Zers said they want a more “plant-forward” diet, and 44 per cent think being vegan is cooler than smoking.

“What we are currently seeing is a younger generation consumed by eco-concern,” said Jim Richards, CEO of the nut-milk brand Milkdamia. “These people want ingredients and products that are part of the solution, not the problem.”

According to Australian Macadamia, while the consumers in the Gen Z age group seek healthy food, they are prepared to pay premium for healthy products that also taste good, turning it into a form of social currency.

“Food is a form of social currency for this generation, so it has to look as good as it tastes, with extra points for technical, textural and flavour complexity,” Australian Madamia said. “They want to mix and match in ways never seen before, as traditional meal times blur and pimped-up snacking takes centre stage. They’re also fascinated with global food trends and embracing different perspectives on what a ‘traditional’ dish is.”

What this means for food brands, Richards said, is to create products that match the way consumers are identifying themselves. While he says innovation is important, it’s often the means to the end, rather than the end goal in and of itself.

“They’re not looking for innovation per se, but they’re excited by products that are relevant to their lives and pertinent to what matters to them. Innovation is often needed in order to deliver that,” Richards said.

The Milkadamia team has worked hard to tap the Gen Z group, creating products that don’t compromise flavour or health.

“Our product tastes great and that’s because we use raw macadamias, not roasted,” he shares. “The result is a product that aligns more closely with the creaminess of traditional dairy milk, which makes it a much easier transition for consumers going plant-based.”

Milkadamia is a range of 10 macadamia milks and creamers. Late last year it added a plant-based butter to its line-up, made from a macadamia oil blend. 

“What we’re seeing now is that consumers are more excited about saying ‘yes’ than ‘no’. Previous generations had a list of ingredients they didn’t want to see in food products, whereas now it’s more about what people do want to see,” Richards said.

“Up and coming consumers want to embrace food in a positive way, which is why so many of them are shifting to plant based eating.”

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