How Millennial Households Purchase Food Differently Than Other Generations

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How Millennial Households Purchase Food Differently Than Other Generations

millennials dining out

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the largest living generation in the United States and their grocery store habits are destined to have a marked effect on future food demand, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

A new USDA report, “Food Purchase Decisions of Millennial Households Compared to Other Generations,” found that millennials (those born between 1981 and the mid-2000s), are looking to buy healthier and fresher food than their predecessors. This generation is also notably spending less money on food at home (FAH). 

Millennials' spending on food at home is not too dissimilar from Gen X’ers (born between 1954 and 1980). Boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) and traditionalists (born before 1946) spend more money on FAH.

Unsurprisingly, the USDA report also indicated that households with higher per capita incomes and higher total per capita food expenditures generally spend more on FAH.

When it comes to frequency of visits, traditionalists make the most trips to grocery stores, while millennials make the fewest number of trips among the generations. Factors include retired traditionalists having more time to make store visits and millennials’ affinity for eating out.

According to the study, millennials eat out at a restaurant or a bar around 30 percent more than other generations.  

Income also plays a factor in grocery store visits, with a higher income appearing to correlate with fewer trips. Furthermore, a higher income may also lead to more frequent dining out.

When millennials do get to the store, they are spending less money on grains, white meat and red meat. On the other hand, they are spending more money proportionately on prepared foods, pasta and sugar/sweets than any other generation, according to the USDA. They are also spending more money on fruit and vegetables. 

After bringing their groceries home, millennials spend less time on food preparation, presentation and cleanup per day than their fellow generations — 88 minutes, compared to Gen X’ers who clock in the most time at 143 minutes. This disparity is credited to millennials favoring ready-to-eat foods.