A New USDA Report About Millennials

The Lempert Report
March 08, 2018

Millennials purchase more prepared foods and sweets than other generations.

Just when we were getting tired of how Millennials are the most passionate and particular about food, a new report from the USDA finds that this generation – born between 1981 and the mid 2000s - that Millennials, on average, devote less of their food budgets to grocery store (food at home) purchases and make fewer trips to the grocery store than the other generations examined. Millennials are demanding healthier and fresher food—including fruits and vegetables—when making food-at-home purchases, and they place a higher preference on convenience than do other generations. 

The differences in food-at-home spending between the generations suggests that the younger generations have a stronger preference for eating out at restaurants, fast food places, and other away-from-home venues. Data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, support this finding: survey respondents under the age of 25 allocate the highest proportion of their food budgets (6 percent) to eating out versus the 4.8 percent by respondents between the ages of 55 and 64 years old. 

USDA’s Economic Research Service classified IRI purchase data into 3 beverage categories and 19 food categories—13 fresh or minimally processed categories and 6 processed categories. The researchers defined prepared foods as foods that require no preparation after purchase—the food is ready to eat or ready to heat and then eat. Foods like canned soup, frozen pizza, and items from the deli section, such as sandwiches, pasta salads, and rotisserie chicken. 

Millennial shoppers generally purchase a larger share of prepared foods, pasta, and sugar and candies than the other generations. On average, Millennials devoted 13.6 percent of their at-home food expenditures to these three categories, compared with 12.4 percent by Gen X’ers, 11.5 percent by Baby Boomers, and 11.2 percent by Traditionalists. Millennial households also devote the smallest share of their at-home food expenditures to grains, poultry, and red meat.   

So much for them having the ultimate taste buds!