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The Dining Habits Defining Millennials, Gen X & Baby Boomers

Stacy Bailey

Baby Boomers and Millennials make up the two largest generations, and though each has their own food preferences, there are remarkable similarities. Then, there’s Gen X. They might be smaller in size, but they spend the most disposable income dining out. Let’s take a closer look at the nosh natures of these three groups.

Millennials

Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials make up the largest generational cohort in the United Statesand spend a yearly average of $3,626 per person on food away from home (FAFH).7

According to a USDA survey2, Millennials purchase more unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables than other generations and prefer foods that are healthy, fresh and organic. They spend more on poultry than Boomers, too.

Millennials spend around 30% more time in restaurants and bars consuming food than any other generation3, and 55% say that convenience is a top factor when purchasing and ordering.4 Fresh and convenient protein- and produce-rich meal options like power bowls, salads, wraps and soups make great Millennial-appealing menu items. 

Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers spend annually an average of $3,318 per person on FAFH.7 Like Millennials, they prioritize fresh fruits and vegetables, but they also spend more on bakery products, dairy products, pork, fish and seafood.5 In contrast, Millennials spend the least on dairy products.

Lean protein is a high priority for Baby Boomers and Millennials. However, the older generation spends almost as much on beef. Surprisingly, Baby Boomers are the most attracted to online-only groceries5, and their willingness to spend on online service can reach to FCR and QSR carryout, restaurant delivery and delivery apps given the right menu offerings.

Fresh options featuring lean protein are big ticket items: think beef, turkey or protein burgers, chicken sandwiches, pulled pork nachos, fresh veggies and savory soups or sides — the menu possibilities for Baby Boomers truly are endless!

Gen X

Last, and unfortunately least in number, between these two larger demographic groups, there is a third. Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen X might be smaller in size, but they boast deep pockets and a spending power of $125 billion.6 Gen X spends the most of any generation on FAFH annually — approximately $4,457 per person.7

Balancing family and work, this generation is most likely to order restaurant delivery than any other6 — so they definitely demand menu consideration. Like Millennials they value fresh fruits and vegetables, and like Boomers, they favor lean meats.

The Bottom Line

The final word, all three generations desire food functionality and ingredients that deliver health benefits like more energy and better sleep. No matter your customer demographics or the food and taste trends they enjoy, Surlean Foods offers customizable proteins, sides, soups and sauces to appeal to everyone. We can help you build the right menu for the right audience for you.

To start a conversation with our team, visit https://www.surleanfoods.com/contact-us.html.

1 Wunsch, N.-G. (n.d.). U.S. Generations: Grocery Shopping Behavior. Statista. Retrieved February 11, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/topics/1779/us-millennials-grocery-shopping-behavior/#dossierKeyfigures.

2 Kuhns, Annemarie and Michelle Saksena. Food Purchase Decisions of Millennial Households. Compared to Other Generations, EIB-186, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, December 2017.

3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 Consumer Expenditure Survey.  

4 2017 food and health survey: A focus on 50+. Food Insight. (2018, October 10). Retrieved February 11, 2022, from https://foodinsight.org/2017-food-and-health-survey-a-focus-on-50/.  

5 Wiley, C. (2020, February 6). Grocery shopping habits of gen Z and millennials. Food Industry Executive. Retrieved February 11, 2022, from https://foodindustryexecutive.com/2020/02/grocery-shopping-habits-of-gen-z-and-millennials/.

6 Gen X and the dining experience. Gordon Food Service. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2022, from https://www.gfs.com/en-us/ideas/gen-x-and-dining-experience.  

7 How do different generations spend their money on food? How To Cook.Recipes. (2021, July 18). Retrieved February 11, 2022, from https://www.howtocook.recipes/how-do-different-generations-spend-their-money-on-food.  

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