Top 3 Gen Z food trends for 2022

Generation Z is stepping into the market, and they are bringing their values with them. According to Pew Research, anyone born in 1997 or after is considered Gen Z, so the oldest Gen Z are about 18 to 24 years old.

Businessman holding a foldable smartphone with GENERATION Z inscription, social media concept
Businessman holding a foldable smartphone with GENERATION Z inscription, social media concept
(ra2studio | BigStock.com)

Generation Z is stepping into the market, and they are bringing their values with them. According to Pew Research, anyone born in 1997 or after is considered Gen Z, so the oldest Gen Z are about 18 to 24 years old.

“Now is the time to reach these young adults as they enter their peak restaurant usage stage,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Restaurant operators can differentiate their brand with Gen Zs by focusing on creative spins on classic foods, engaging relevant messaging and generating value beyond price.”

According to NPD Group’s Gen Z consumers study, Gen Z made approximately 5 billion restaurant visits in the past year. Of those, 4.3 billion were to quick service restaurants, and 736 million were to full-service restaurants. The study highlights three key areas that dictate Gen Z’s choice in restaurant. 

1. Fast casual 

Gen Z values the speed and price of quick service but with a more extensive menu, so fast casual restaurants like Five Guys, Chipotle and Panera are the top pick. 

2. Unique

Gen Z are also looking for more unique, value-driven options like grown local, low-calorie, organic and plant-based options, according to the study. Offering menu items that can’t be easily replicated at home is also key to motivating Gen Z to eat out. For example, fried chicken sandwiches are popular with Gen Z consumers especially if a restaurant offers a variety of flavors. 

3. Values

The menu is no longer the only consideration on a consumer’s mind. Gen Z is also looking to buy from companies that have shared social values like sustainability. For example, more and more fast-food chains are partnering with protein alternative companies to offer plant-based menu options like Burger King and Panda Express. 

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