16-34 year olds choose sweets over veg, finds survey

Pick 'n mix sweets

Age is the most important factor that determines grocery shopping and eating habits, according to new research, with the young making less healthy choices than the over 55s.

Although it should be noted that Future Thinking’s research was conducted exclusively on supermarket shoppers, their 2015 Grocery Eye survey offers local retailers a fresh insight into customer behaviour.

The research shows that confectionery is, by far, millennials’ (those aged between 16-34) favourite item to shop for, chosen by 29% of respondents. Conversely, over 55s prefer to buy fresh fruit and veg, chosen by 38% of that age group, which would suggest the young make less healthy choices.

This is backed up by the finding that 80% of 16-34 year olds purchase fresh fruit and veg compared to 96% of over 55 year olds and only 63% of 16-34 year olds include fruit and veg in their diets compared to 88% of over 55s.

The over 55 age bracket consider themselves to have the most nutritious diets, with 40% thinking they already have a healthy diet compared to 28% of those aged between 16-34. They are also more likely to look out for low salt foods (29%) and high fibre items (23%), whereas it is barely an issue for those under 35 (14%).

The Grocery Eye also showed that 16-34 year olds feel it is more difficult to get by on their tight food budget, have a greater tendency to snack between meals during the day and look for packaging to fit with their lifestyles, illustrating the changing needs of millennials.

Commenting on the report findings, Claudia Strauss, Managing Director of FMCG and Shopper at Future Thinking, said:

“There is an unjustified perception that millennials are not engaged with food compared to their older peers. Whilst it is clear that their lifestyles and lower incomes result in their eating habits to be less healthy, millennials are more socially conscious than the older generations selecting brands accordingly.

“They also engage with foods in different ways, for example, ‘the Instagram effect’ reflecting the way millennials share images of their food on social media on average three times a week. This presents a positive challenge for manufacturers who need to tailor not only their food offer, but also the way they communicate with different audiences.”