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9 points from the ERS food purchasing report

Millennials purchase more ready-to-eat foods, spend less time on food prep.

USDA’s Economic Research Service has compared the food purchasing decisions of millennial households compared to other generations in a new study, “Food Purchase Decisions of Millennial Households Compared to Other Generations.”

The study is authored by Annemarie Kuhns and Michelle Saksena. 

Who are millennials?

Those born between 1981 and the mid-2000s. They are now the largest, most diverse living generation in the United States. On average, they have higher levels of education than previous generations. In addition, some of them began establishing careers during an economic downturn.

What are some of the highlights from the report?

  1. Millennials consume food in a restaurant or bar around 30% more often than any other generation.
  2. Millennial households with lower per capita income have a greater tendency to make more food at home purchases than do higher income Millennial households.
  3. Millennials devote the smallest share of food expenditures to grains, white meat and red meat.
  4. Though Millennials spend less on food at home in total, they allocate more proportionately to prepared foods, pasta and sugar/sweets than any other generation. 
  5. As Millennials become richer, they apportion more of their food at home budget to vegetables, suggesting that the Millennial generation may have a stronger preference for fruits and vegetables compared to older generations.
  6. Millennials spend, on average, 12 minutes less eating and drinking than Traditionalists, those born before 1946.
  7. Millennials spend significantly less time on food preparation, presentation and cleanup.
  8. Millennials purchase more ready-to-eat foods; nearly two-thirds of Millennials reported buying some form of prepared food within the prior 7 days, suggesting a preference for time savings.
  9. “Recession Millennials” – those who entered the job market during the Great Recession of 2007-09 - purchase more food at home overall than “non-recession Millennials,” even when they have similar incomes.   

Source: USDA ERS

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