A new study shows millennials want sustainably farmed, fair trade, and free-range snacks.

Jillian Kramer
March 14, 2018

Millennials often get a bad rap.They’ve been blamed for killing restaurants and costing big food brands big money, and they’re even too lazy to eat breakfast cereals. (Most of them haven’t eaten McDonald’s signature Big Mac, which is almost un-American.)

But thanks to a new study, millennials may be able to impact the food and beverage industry in a positive way: of all consumers, millennials pay the most attention to how their food and drinks are sourced, and they hold even their grab-and-go items to that same high standard, according to the study dubbed “Ethics On the Go.”

The study, which comes from the Culinary Visions Panel's Mindful Dining Initiative project, asked 1,500 American consumers their feelings on ethically sourced foods, and how those feelings impact the portable and grab-and-go items they purchase.

While the study showed that all participants care about responsible food and drink practices, consumers younger than 35 care the most. For example, while 50 percent of general consumers say organic foods tasted better, 60 percent of consumers who are younger than 35 equated organic foods with better taste. Millennials also care about ethical practices: 76 percent say ethical efforts make restaurants “trendy.”

"From sustainable farming to free-range eggs, consumers do not want their dining choices to have unintended negative consequences," Sharon Olson, executive director of Culinary Visions Panel, said in a statement. "Whether it's rewarding a company's fair trade labor practices or their zero-waste policies, we found that millennials are the most serious about ethically-sourced grab-and-go foods." 

Unfortunately for those millennials, though, is the fact that they don’t feel there are enough grab-and-go foods that meet their responsibility requirements. About 64 percent of consumers younger than 35 say they don’t have enough “ethical” snacks.

With that in mind, there’s an obvious opportunity for food vendors here: not only do millennials want more responsible grab-and-go options, but they are also willing to pay for them. In fact, according to this study, 67 percent of millennials say they would be willing to pay more for ethically produced food that they take with them.