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A few weeks ago, I wrote about a budding new generation of whole grain heroes who are quickly taking the food world by storm and showing the world the bright future of healthy eating. This week, I decided to take a look at a slightly older generation, the generation that I myself belong to: Millennials. If you’re scratching your head and asking yourself, what in the world is a Millennial?, you’re not alone. I’ve heard this term Millennial thrown around for several years and I know that I am one but I also wasn’t entirely sure what made me one.
The largest generation since Baby Boomers, Millennials are the group of 20 to 35 year olds who are just beginning to establish themselves in the world. Millennials don’t quite have the spending power Baby Boomers have but they certainly have the potential to. This generation is huge consumers of not only specialty foods, but content. They are constantly plugged into the internet, television, radio and are prime targets for advertising. Millennials have less brand loyalty and are more tuned into trends, particularly when it comes to health.
Aha! You’ve got it; that means there is a huge generation of whole grain consumers out there, just waiting for the next hot whole grain product! But what sort of product? Millennials are more adventurous and health-conscious with their eating. As a more ethnically and racially diverse generation, they are interested in global foods, and more willing to try a wide array of cuisines.
Food retailers have been quick to jump on the Millennial bandwagon. As one large snack producer put it, “We really focus on what people are getting and the experience they have with the products.” Millennials are all about experiencing foods and getting a visceral reaction from eating, whether that’s a feeling of adventure or making a healthy choice for your body; they also want an easy ﬁx, so they seek a snack or a meal that will give them sustained energy. Sustained energy, you say? From whole grains of course! As we all know, whole grains are full of ﬁber that keep you feeling satisﬁed for longer.
Snack producers have zoned in on this, incorporating exciting ﬂavors and whole grains, that allow Millennials to snack on the go – another must for this go, go, go generation! I see this in some of the new products I’m reviewing for the Whole Grain Stamp – like a heat-and-eat Sriracha Chicken Brown Rice Bowl, Chili Lime Popcorn, or Koku Seaweed Rice Cakes. A generation focused on saving time and money, Millennials have been the prime audience for healthy grab and go foods: granola bars, instant oatmeal, sandwiches on whole grain breads, granola parfaits, you name it! (I’ll admit to being part of this: a few of my favorites are Maple Oatmeal Squares, Wasabi Rice Chips, and Maple and Sea Salt Popcorn.)
What does this mean for the future of whole grains? Things are looking good! Since Millennials are constantly demanding new ﬂavors, simpler ways of eating great food, and healthy convenience, there will always be high demand for more and new whole grain options (among other things!). While the youngsters who took Washington, DC by storm last month are certainly a shining example of our bright future, I think we Millennials can certainly give them a run for their money! (Mallory)