Millennial dining It’s not their fathers’ eating habits

Jessica Perry//September 22, 2014

Millennial dining It’s not their fathers’ eating habits

Jessica Perry//September 22, 2014

When I was a kid, McDonald’s was a magical place and Happy Meals were like mini-Christmas.I even had select pieces from the company’s Happy Meal Magic Maker toy line so I could make awful tasting “french fries” out of slices of white bread in the comfort of my own house.

But as I grew up, I started ditching the fast food line for healthier options.

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And I wasn’t alone: A growing number of young Americans are rethinking the way they approach food. In turn, restaurants are having to change the way they cater to them.

With this emerging consciousness, farm to table restaurants are starting to make an appearance on the dining scene. And what’s more, they’re even proving to be profitable.

Even restaurants in my humble little burg of Hackettstown are providing entirely vegan menus and ingredients from local farms.

A report by Jefferies called “Trouble in Aisle 5” found that more health- and socially conscious millennials meant good news for these specialty and organic food retailers, while more traditional supermarkets and “branded processed food manufacturers” might lose out if they can’t keep up with this new generation.

McDonald’s, the once-unstoppable fast-food giant, has felt this shift: Its U.S. locations, which represent more than 40 percent of the total, have seen either flat or falling sales for a good portion of the past year.

The fast-food chain is even trying a “build-your-own burger” experiment to try and recapture some of the market that has migrated to places like Chipotle, which have highly customizable menus.

But customizability is only one aspect: Chipotle also features local and organic food products when available. Without McDonald’s making that complete paradigm shift, who knows if it will be able to keep up.

One thing is for sure, large businesses are starting to discover the buying power of the millennial generation and are starting to at least try and adapt. Millennials are a generation larger in population than even the baby boomers, so it’s not something businesses can afford to miss out on.

Only time will tell.


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