The ideas inherent to healthy eating are rooted in distrust that started in the '60s.

Mike Pomranz
September 27, 2017

Think millennials are behind all the latest food trends? Think again. Though young may people may indicate the future of the food business, older generations are concerned about trying to stay young now, and they have the money to drive major trends in the present. So though healthier "clean eating" may seem like the hip movement du jour, the demographic behind it is actually the age group that needs to worry about their health: Baby Boomers.

"The drive toward organic, clean label is driven by the Boomer consumer," Daniel Lohman, organic and consumer packaged goods industry strategic adviser for Category Management Solutions, said during the SupplySide West trade show this week, according to Food Business News. Lohman emphasized that unlike millennials, many Baby Boomers actual suffer from some sort of ailment, making healthy eating that much more important.

"Not to discount millennials, but it is the Baby Boomers driving the key attributing across categories," Lohman said. "They are the ones driving the growth in the key categories."

Interestingly, at the same event, Alan Rownan, ethical labels analyst for Euromonitor International, pointed out that this trend is actually born out of the Baby Boomer era. "Clean label is a mosaic of differing narratives," Rownan surmised. "It goes back to the 1960s with MSG, to the '70s with e-numbers in Europe, and then you had melamine in milk in China…. It all just feeds into this fear of what people are putting into their bodies."

So though the idea of clean labeling may be getting plenty of hype right now, the ideas behind it are actually rooted in old concerns and are fueled by a larger skepticism from older generations. "It's based on a general, global lack of trust," Rownan continued.

That said, Rownan also stated that this doesn't mean clean eating is going to die out with older generation. By 2020, he estimates that sales of clean label products in the U.S., U.K, China and Germany could add up to around $112 billion in sales. Turns out the influence of Baby Boomers isn't going anywhere—especially if clean eating helps extend their longevity!

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