More than other generations, Millennials want to know how and where their food is produced. They prioritize healthy and local foods and value teaching their children about where food comes from, how to prepare it, and how it impacts the body. We’ve seen Millennials changing their diets by decreasing red meat, increasing fruits and vegetables, increasing whole grains and proteins, and decreasing sugar.
With parents making the meals for their Gen Alpha children, we are seeing taste profiles and values among younger eaters change as well. Clean eating isn’t just a buzzy phrase anymore; for these generations, it is a way of life. You’re more likely to see a Gen Alpha child choose an apple over a bag of chips, as over-processed and fatty foods have lost favor.
When your parents are eating sushi, pho, and curry, you want to try it too. Millennials have embraced ethnic offerings and have encouraged their Gen Alpha kids to do the same. About 50 percent of children in the U.S. are non-Hispanic white today, and it is fitting that ethnic food has become mainstream.
With early exposure to many ethnic flavors and varied ingredients, Gen Alpha’s palates are becoming more refined than earlier generations of kids and with that comes changing expectations. It’s no surprise that restaurants are picking up on this trend, with many kids’ menus resembling the adults’ menus.
Catering to this palate are experiential snacks. These snacks deliver a sensory experience through form, flavor, and texture. This fun food often showcases unexpected flavors, and innovative ingredients and offers unexpected combinations of cultures and styles to bring new experiences.
Snack Food Evolution
With less structured mealtimes becoming the norm, the snack food category is seeing new attention from Gen Alphas and their Millenial parents, who are seeking portable, nutritious snacks that will keep them energized throughout the day.
We aren’t talking potato chips and pudding cups here. Functionality, dietary alignment, and experience are the main driving factors of the snacking trend. That means Gen Alphas want snacks with a combination of dense nutritional value and specific functional benefits. These snacks must provide a hit of energy without depleting the planet.
Instagram was founded just as Gen Alpha was first entering the world, and this generation of kids is growing up with the cultural norm of posting photos of meals on social media channels. As restaurants have evolved to ensure their plates are “Instagrammable” for their Millenial patrons, school meals must provide the same appeal, as both parents and students expect them to be comparable to what is eaten outside of school. Food color, size, shape, and texture are all important considerations.
Eating for the Planet
As more people are committed to eating for a healthier planet, we can expect to see Gen Alpha follow. Vegetarian and vegan diets are well-established, but a generally sustainable approach to eating will gain popularity with this new generation of climate activists. Eating for the planet means eating food that is sustainable through ingredients, process, product or packaging. It also extends to smaller portions as well as mindful eating, which have both been shown to positively impact health.
We expect to see “flexitarian,” “climatearian” and “reducetarian” diets gaining traction among this cohort. Not only does this mean more plant-based food and meat alternatives on the shelves, but also an evolved approach to eating. As the climate crisis deepens, we could see a more philosophical approach to consumption among the youngest of our planet’s inhabitants. This aligns with Gen Alpha’s early activist nature.