Gen Z Food Trends and Statistics for 2023
Gen Z Food Trends and Statistics
Gen Z, composed of 18 to 24-year-olds, is the newest generation to reach adulthood. And their preferences and eating habits are slightly different than that of Millennials. Gen Z is focused on sustainability, health, and wellness, and is more likely than any previous generation to embrace flexitarian eating through vegan or vegetarian lifestyles.
Convenience is another deciding factor when it comes to Gen Z food habits. The economic uncertainty of the pandemic that marked the start of their adult lives has influenced their purchases. Gen Z is working hard to get through college and begin their careers, so quick and easy eats are in high demand.
Overall, Gen Z wants food that fits their lifestyles. Gen Z is likely to stick to eating patterns that omit certain foods, such as sugary or highly processed items. We’ll cover the Gen Z food trends and statistics that you can use to attract this new generation of eaters.
Menu Engineering Worksheet
Use this menu engineering worksheet, complete with intricate menu engineering formulas, to determine areas of strength and weakness in your restaurant's menu.
For Gen Z, environmental sustainability is one of the top political and economic issues of the time. According to Food Insight, a third (33%) of Gen Z responded that sustainability had an impact on their decisions to buy foods and beverages. Half of the survey participants (50%) agreed that their individual choices have an impact on the environment.
Environmental sustainability in the food industry starts with production. In restaurants, purchasing locally-produced or grown ingredients has a major impact on the carbon footprint of each dish. Gen Z wants to know where the foods they buy are sourced and how they’re produced.
Plant-based alternatives for animal products and meat are popular with Gen Z. In fact, 19% of Gen Z reported that they embrace plant-based eating habits. Many plant-based ingredients are more environmentally sustainable as well. Farming cattle for dairy products and beef releases lots of greenhouse gas methane into the environment.
Technological advancements are innovating substitutes that appeal to consumers. Even fast food chains are embracing meat alternatives thanks to demand from younger generations.
As the youngest generation, Gen Z is naturally healthy. The amount of information available about healthy eating via internet access is higher than ever before. And social media trends often promote nutritious, fresh eating.
Gen Z is conscious of eating foods that bolster their physical and mental health, with a focus on digestive and gut health. They look for menu items made with organic, fresh, and sustainable ingredients.
Because they were raised with the internet, Gen Z is wary of information that they find online. They’re likely to conduct their own research to verify health and nutrition information. As much as they embrace social media food influencers and bloggers, Gen Z is just as quick to be critical.
Read this next
Top 10 Restaurant Trends and Statistics for 2023
Start the new year on a high note with these restaurant industry trends.
Since much of Gen Z entered adulthood during the pandemic, online ordering became natural. From Ghost kitchens that provide restaurant quality delivery and online ordering for pickup at grocery stores, Gen Z is accustomed to saving time and social distancing with online ordering.
Ordering online saves time, too, and convenience is important to Gen Z. As they navigate working and going to college during economic uncertainty, Gen Z feels pressed for time. They turn to online ordering as a way to access good food and beverages on their tight schedules.
Social Media-Inspired Eats
Social media outlets like Instagram have been around for most of Gen Z’s lives. They often discover new dining experiences through social media advertising, and love to chase the newest TikTok or Instagram food trends. Gen Z customers are likely to post about their dining experiences on their social media platforms as well, making them a desirable but difficult-to-impress consumer base.
Authentic Global Cuisine
Another result of social media access is a desire for authentic global cuisine. Gen Z is the most diverse American generation. They aren’t afraid of trying new cuisines.
Authenticity isn’t just about the food itself though. Everything from branding to atmosphere to aesthetic works to create an “authentic” experience.
42% of Gen Z-ers who responded to a Technomic survey say they want street food on menus. Their demand for convenience and new flavors is personified by street food. Especially if it’s served out of the window of a brightly colored food truck!
New Takes on Basics
It’s no secret that young people can be picky eaters. Which is why burgers, sandwiches, pizza, smoothies, and salads are perennially popular. So is customizability. Fast casual “build your own” restaurants are a hit with Gen Z. They provide options for everyone, and let people build dishes to their preferences.
Sales for healthy snacks are on the rise, and Gen Z is leading the demand. 23% of Gen Z-ers report that they enjoy building a meal of appetizers, share plates, and snacks. Rather than eating separate dishes, snacks create a communal experience for everyone at the table.
Capture Gen Z’s attention in 2023 with these food trends!
Gen Z is a demanding generation of eaters. And as they come into adulthood, securing their allegiance will prove essential to food service businesses. How will you use these food trends to attract Gen Z customers in 2023?
Related Restaurant Resources
Is this article helpful?
DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.