Sustainable Foods Production More Important

EDMONTON - Jan 17/17 - SNS -- Ethical business practices and environmental sustainability are becoming more important elements across the food production chain, argues Ava Duering, competitiveness analyst, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

The reason is millennials make up approximately 1/3 of the world's population. In 2015, they were between 15-34 years old and totalled 9.5 million in Canada.

"As a group, they're more ethnically diverse and well educated than any previous generation," says Duering. "According to Statistics Canada, millennials are projected to increase in population to 2050 while the remaining segments of the population will experience a significant downturn."

Duering says that millennials are environmentally and socially conscious and value transparency in company business. They base their purchasing decisions on food that has been raised sustainably and ethically by businesses that are open and transparent about their operations.

"Millennials lead the way in favoring organic ingredients, and products that are locally grown. 30% of millennials eat certified organic food. They don't like to spend too much money but they will pay more for organic and local food because they value supporting their community and what they deem to be healthy."

Duering says that another trait millennials share is a penchant for snack foods.

"Millennials are snacking more than any other generation, According to trend watchers, 35% of meals eaten by millennials are snacks where foods traditionally served at breakfast, lunch and dinner are combined. They enjoy variety and value the experience of trying new and exotic food."

Technology also plays a key role for millennials who often use apps and social media to learn and communicate about food. "According to a recent study, one quarter of them indicated a high interest in online shopping if their regular grocery store offered it," says Duering. "According to the same study, 41% of millennials use mobile shopping apps and 64% use an app because it saves them money."

Convenience is often a key consideration in food purchases for millennials which is reflected in their greater use of frozen meals and other easy-to prepare products. Millennials are also spending 44% of their food budget on dining out.

Millennials want variety and diverse flavors as they come from various ethnic backgrounds, notes Duering. "According to a recent study 40% order something different every time they visit a restaurant. Millennials want food items that are fresh, creative and made just for them.

"Bottom line is that using technology and social media to market company products and values can also help to reach the tech-savvy millennials. Snacking is also important to millennials and spicy and exotic flavored snacks offer potential market opportunities. Offering product variety and meal customization represents a major opportunity to attract millennials who value variety and individualism."