A new generation is about to enter its prime spending years. How do Millennials view meat?

Beef Central, 09/09/2016

One of the largest generations in history will soon be entering its prime spending years, a development that is likely to change how meat is bought and consumed.

Millennials or Generation Y refers to those born in the 1980s and 1990s.

Millennials are overtaking Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) as the largest generation.

They also differ from Baby Boomers in several ways. Also the most studied and talked about generation to date, they have grown up totally immersed in a world of digital technology. They are the most educated generation in western history, technologically savvy, civic-oriented, globally aware, highly attuned to health, social, economic environmental issues, and also entrepreneurial – earning this generation the tag “conscious capitalists” (See more on the characteristics of millennials here)

To understand Millennials’ meat consumption, as well as their attitudes and perceptions about meat, US-based Midan Marketing conducted an online study with 425 Millennials and 400 Boomers (as a comparison point) in May 2016.

The overwhelming majority of both Millennials and Boomers had consumed some type of meat in the past month—95 and 96 percent, respectively.

Both groups responded to similar questions about their meat consumption, preferences and attitudes toward meat and health.

As a group, the Midan study found that Millennials consume fresh meat (all types included) at similar levels as their preceding generations (Gen Y and Boomers).

However, as Millennials move into their prime spending years, get married and start families, their consumption is expected to increase.

In order to better understand Millennials’ relationship with meat, Midan Marketing compared Millennials and Boomers in 12 important areas.

Following is a list of the most relevant areas of interest for the meat industry, and how the two generations compare:

At-home meal preparation: Millennials are more engaged than Boomers.

Millennials feel a sense of accomplishment when they prepare a complicated dish (76 percent vs. 58 percent of Boomers) and enjoy trying new meat recipes (62 percent vs. 49 percent of Boomers). They also are willing to pay more for high-quality ingredients than Boomers (55 percent vs. 37 percent).

Changes in meat consumption: Millennials’ meat consumption is not stable.

Boomers exhibit more stable meat consumption than Millennials.

Seventy-nine percent of Boomers are consuming about the same amount of meat and poultry as last year compared to 67 percent of Millennials.

Reasons for decreasing meat consumption: health concerns are top reason for both groups

Boomers’ top three reasons for decreasing consumption are related to health (36 percent), the increasing cost of meat (38 percent) and their own economic situation (31 percent).

By contrast, Millennials’ top reasons for decreasing meat consumption are health concerns (30 percent), animal welfare (23 percent), environmental concerns (23 percent) and social influences (22 percent).

Monthly meat spending: Millennials’ spending is significantly higher than Boomers’

In an average month, Millennials spend significantly more on meat than Boomers ($162 vs. $93).

This can be explained by two important differences between these groups: one, Millennials have larger households (and growing families), and two, they purchase proportionally more prepared meats than Boomers.

Fresh vs. prepared meat consumption: Millennials buy significantly more prepared meat than Boomers

Boomers purchase significantly more fresh/unprepared meat (78 percent) than Millennials (56 percent).  Both groups prefer fresh meat rather than frozen.

Prepared meat accounts for about 44 percent of Millennials’ meat purchases; in comparison, only 22 percent of meat purchases among Boomers are prepared meats.

Attitudes toward meat: Both groups have positive attitudes toward meat, with a few important differences

Boomers have a stronger preference for meat produced and packaged in the U.S. than Millennials (70 percent vs. 61 percent). They also are more likely to say that they cannot imagine giving up the taste of meat (62 percent of Boomers vs. 55 percent of Millennials surveyed). On the other hand, Millennials have stronger opinions about meat in other areas.

Attitudes toward health as related to food: Millennials are more concerned about health as related to meat consumption

Millennials’ views are more rigid than Boomers when it comes to health, nutrition and keeping meat as part of their diet. Unlike Boomers, Millennials are willing to sacrifice taste and modify their behavior if they believe these actions will have a positive long-term impact on their well-being.

Social attitudes toward meat: Millennials are more easily influenced

Some Millennials think that meat is becoming less socially acceptable (33 percent vs. 13 percent of Boomers) and in a social setting are much more likely than Boomers to adjust their meat consumption to align with the group (30 percent vs. 6 percent of Boomers).

Meat purchase decision drivers: similar among both groups

Top decision drivers are similar between Boomers and Millennials. However, Millennials value specific aspects of meat and meat production such as local, sustainable, organic, community impact and green packaging. While these are not the key drivers, they do impact their meat purchases.

Use of meat substitutes: Millennials are more likely to try meat substitutes than Boomers (43 percent vs. 12 percent)

More than four in 10 Millennials have consumed meat alternatives in the past 12 months. The most common meat alternatives used by Millennials are tofu (54 percent of those who tried meat alternatives), soy-based meat (52 percent) and texturized vegetable protein (40 percent).

Meat substitutes: different choices for Millennials and Boomers at lunch and dinner

At lunch time, Millennials substitute meat with grains such as rice, pasta or quinoa (49 percent); cheese (41 percent); beans (36 percent) and protein bars/shakes (27 percent). Boomers’ preferred substitute for meat is cheese (50 percent), followed by rice/pasta/quinoa (28 percent) and beans (21 percent).

At dinner time, however, rice/pasta/quinoa is the preferred choice for both groups (62 percent for Millennials and 73 percent for Boomers), followed by beans (42 percent of Millennials and 62 percent of Boomers).

General attitudes toward health: Millennials are much more concerned than Boomers

Millennials’ health concerns go beyond food. Health is a core value for them and they take their health very seriously.  While both Millennials and Boomers view overall health as a priority, there are some significant differences between these two groups. Unlike Boomers, Millennials are prepared to make sacrifices to maintain their health. This “whatever it takes” attitude has a definitive impact on their lifestyle and their choices, including food choices.

Source: The Shelby Report, Midan Marketing


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  1. Val dyer, 09/09/2016

    An interesting, very small survey which was based in the US. Not sure of its credibility and relevance to Australua

    Thank you for your message Val. We saw relevance in this research for Australia largely because of our beef industry’s heavy reliance on export markets and in particular the US as our largest export customer. Regards, Editor.

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