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Two in Five Millennials Don’t Trust Large Food Manufacturers

CHICAGO — As consumer interest in brand transparency continues to grow, new research from Mintel reveals that more than two in five millennials (43 percent) do not trust large food manufacturers, compared to 18 percent of non-millennials. Similarly, 74 percent of millennials said they wish food companies were more transparent about how they manufacture their products, vs. 69 percent of non-millennials.

This demographic, defined by Mintel as adults aged 21-38, is also more likely to agree that both retailer and brand are important food purchase factors. Nearly 60 percent of millennials will stop buying a certain brand’s products if they believe the brand is unethical, and 58 percent agree that where you buy groceries reflects your personal values, compared to 28 percent of non-millennials (those aged 18-20 and 39 and older).

Mintel also highlighted:
  • As millennials pursue food from retailers and brands they perceive as “trustworthy,” they are blending the idea of “authentic” with “ethical.”
  • Millennials (52 percent) are twice as likely as non-millennials (25 percent) to agree that traditional grocery stores are not as appealing as specialty stores.
  • Three in five millennials (57 percent) said they only shop the fresh sections of grocery stores (e.g. produce, meat and deli), compared to 30 percent of non-millennials. 
  • Millennials are more likely to avoid buying processed foods (58 percent) than non-millennials (51 percent).
  • Millennials (67 percent) are more open to trying foods made for specific diets (e.g. vegan, paleo and gluten free) than non-millennials (40 percent).
  • Sixty-nine percent of millennials vs. 55 percent of non-millennials believe they are more focused on health than other generations.

“Millennials are different than generations prior and are taking a proactive approach with their health. This impacts their food shopping behaviors, product preferences and the brands they support,” said Amanda Topper, food analyst at Mintel. “With growing distrust and a greater desire for transparency from food manufacturers, millennials want brands to form a genuine, authentic connection with them, and brands should recognize the impact millennials have on their businesses.”


Mintel's research also uncovered that lifestyle shapes millennials' food purchases. For example, although research shows 94 percent of Americans snack daily, 52 percent of millennials prefer to snack instead of eat regular meals (vs. 20 percent of non-millennials). When it comes to purchasing foods at the grocery store, 46 percent of millennials look to buy food that will keep them full (vs. 32 percent of non-millennials).

Additionally, 37 percent of millennials place an importance on buying foods that will energize them (vs. 20 percent of non-millennials).

And 40 percent of millennials said it is important for food to be convenient to consume, while an additional 35 percent said it is important to purchase food that is fun to eat.

Millennials consider themselves to be foodies (62 percent), and are likely to value premium ingredients and higher-quality food offerings, according to Mintel's latest findings. In fact, 50 percent of millennials said they are willing to splurge on locally produced foods with high-quality ingredients.

“Millennials’ foodie mentality is likely increasing their interest in specialty stores, as traditional stores may not offer a strong selection of high-quality foods that are locally produced or are from companies they perceive as trustworthy,” Topper said. “As they expand their budget for food purchases, specialty stores present an outlet for millennials to find the fresh, functional foods they desire.”

Another trend emerging among millennials is online grocery shopping. According to Mintel's research, 31 percent of overall consumers made a grocery purchase online. Comparatively, 39 percent of millennials reported primarily buying their groceries online.

As consumers become more “connected” when shopping, millennials are expected to turn more to technology for in-store grocery shopping as well. Sixty percent create shopping lists on their phone. Additionally, 55 percent of millennials look up food products while in-store, compared to only 12 percent of non-millennials.

“While online grocery shopping has yet to be widely adopted, it is gaining momentum among millennial shoppers, America’s largest demographic. Assisted by their familiarity with technology and the disinterest many millennial consumers express with traditional grocery stores, our research indicates there is future value in the online grocery channel,” Topper explained. “Retailers and manufacturers who establish a genuine and authentic relationship, and offer online experiences that improve convenience and product variety, will be in prime position to attract millennial shoppers moving forward.”

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