The NPD Group seeks to discover what life factors influence current and future eating behaviors.
A recently released study from The NPD Group has revealed that, when it comes to eating behaviors, there are more variables weighing in when it comes to predicting future consumption trends than previously believed. Previously, a great deal of weight was placed on the generation a person belonged to, but now it seems other factors may be just as, or more, important.
In addition to generation, age, ethnicity, life stage and values also influence current and future eating behaviors, based on a recently released NPD study that leverages 30 years of actual consumption data to quantitatively determine what is myth and reality about eating patterns among the generations.
There are eating behaviors and categories where all generations are moving in the same direction showing cross-generational behavior shifts, finds NPD’s A Generational Study: The Evolution of Eating. For example, since 1984 all generations have shown a preference for food and beverage items that are convenient and healthy snacks that double as mini-meals, and have moved away from some other foods, like red meat, sugar and canned foods. Then there are shifts in eating patterns that defy traditional aging patterns and have generations going in different directions. Millennials and baby boomers are often going in different directions. For example, baby boomers are all about convenience and using restaurants, while Millennials are less so.
Another question addressed by the study is which eating behaviors are generationally influenced and which are based on life stage. For example, will Millennials change their eating habits when kids enter the household and behave like previous generations? Based on the study’s findings, when kids enter the household, Millennial parents eat differently. They do eat more kid-friendly foods. The watch out is that they aren’t eating these foods at the same rate of prior generations. The other thing Millennial-aged parents are doing differently is increasing their consumption of healthier foods compared to previous generations.
“It is undeniable that people of different ages have different eating patterns,” said David Portalatin, vice president, food industry analyst at NPD Group. “The more important questions we must answer are whether these differences are the results of current life stage and circumstance, or whether an emerging set of new values will have the power to transcend life stage or circumstance. This analysis helps identify the unpredictable behaviors that will be the white space opportunities in the future.”