Millennial parents are driving the fresh food category in grocery stores, and we couldn't be happier!
There's no doubt that childhood obesity is an epidemic in the United States. As awareness for child nutrition continues to grow among the next generation of parents, we believer grocery stores and the foods they offer will universally shape the health future of young children.
Through a combination of fresh food options, a positive in-store shopping experience for both parent and child, along with the introduction of fun, educational resources (like Kitchen Club Kids), grocery stores will emerge as a health-centric destination among millennial families over time. This is exciting news, because the more millennial parents drive the consciousness of our food suppliers, the better off all our children will be.
Millennials’ passion for food is undeniable, and GenZ (their children - the demographic born from 1995 to present day) is growing up with an entirely new set of food values at the kitchen table. Exposed at a young age to more flavors and variety than previous generations, GenZ’s collective attitude toward food is simplicity and health (1). This shows just how influential you are in setting the table for a generation of healthy eating habits.
Fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins are continuing to play a more meaningful role in all three main meal occasions and will only grow over next 5 years. This could be the positive turn America’s youth need to battle the trend of obesity that has set in over the past 30 years (2). Childhood obesity rates that had more than tripled since 1980 seem to be leveling out … at least in some states. Arkansas, you need to get with the program here. Boasting a 35.9% adult obesity rate doesn’t set a very good example for the kids (3). But, there’s hope.
Thanks to Millennial parents and their mastery of technology and social media, today’s Gen Z kids are more up-to-date on healthy food trends. Great job!
About one in four Millennials are already parents, meaning they are influencing what their families eat and are contributing to the eating patterns and habits that will guide the next generation. Plus, we cannot forget that as Millennials age their own parents are becoming more reliant on them, creating a bottom-up pyramid of influence when it comes to food and nutrition trends (4). This is a good sign.
Millennials are in a unique position, and how they eat could be just what the doctor ordered. So, what key attitudes are defining the Millennial shift in health and nutrition?
Many millennials are focusing less on calories and more on “what” they’re feeding their families. The desire to cut out additives and preservatives, while embracing a holistic food experience has been driving the “natural” and “organic” markets. The ability to pronounce everything on the label is key.
Now, more than any previous generation, Gen Z is being exposed to global food influences and a more holistic approach to health and wellness. Good-tasting, high-quality, healthy foods are fueling the generation that just might reverse the obesity trend in America.
So, let’s continue to capitalize on this opportunity and follow the Millennial lead (as, a group Gen X parents ourselves, it’s hard to admit). It’s never too early to get your kids involved in the kitchen, introduce fresh, natural foods, and start them down the path to living a healthier, more active lifestyle.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few Millennial-inspired ideas to get your little Gen Zers excited about eating:
- Children as young as two-years old can help with basic tasks while you’re preparing dinner. Letting them chop, scoop, pour and stir will hold their attention and turns cooking into a tactile learning experience.
- Shopping together can be fun, too. Turn your next visit to the farmer’s market into a seek-and-find. Give them a list of fruits and vegetables to collect, and let them pick out the ones they want to eat.
- Discover new foods together. Feed your little one’s imagination. Look for foods they’ve never seen before, then bring them home and plan a meal around them.
For all of you parents out there who are looking for a more defined, step-by-step way to introduce your toddlers to healthy foods and cooking fun, you can always check out the Kitchen Club Kids® recipe-adventure storybooks. Each story introduces a real recipe that can be prepared in the kitchen by cooks of any caliber. So, whether you’re reading with your child before mealtime or before bedtime, Kitchen Club Kids turns story time into a culinary, learning adventure.
Rediscovering our kitchens and introducing healthy foods at an early age are keys to reversing the trend of childhood obesity in America.
- Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. JAMA, 311(8):806-814, 2014.