Millennials: On Matters of Food, They’re Leading the Way

by Eric R. Gustafson


By Eric R. Gustafson

Great Taste Magazine Sept/Oct 2016 Issue

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN, OR SO THE EXPRESSION GOES. And that’s true in spades for one hugely influential segment of the population that, truth to tell, probably doesn’t remember the old days.

A new survey reveals that attitudes about animal fats in the American diet have changed — and millennials are leading the way. In today’s foodie culture, taste is on par with health concerns — and nutritious animal fats deliver both. The survey of 1,000 adults examined how attitudes about animal fats in the American diet have changed in recent years — and how consumption patterns may be changing as well. Respondents were asked whether they were more or less open to animal fats, and whether those views extended to actual behavior.

The clear finding: where animal fats are concerned, youth will be served.

According to the Coast Packing/Ipsos survey, those in the 18-34 age bracket are twice as open to animal fats as the next oldest group (35-54) — 15 percent to 7 percent — and three times as open as those 55 and over (5 percent). Behavior does indeed follow attitudes: by a wide margin, those 18-34 are leading the charge back to animal fats. Fully 13 percent say their consumption has increased — dramatically higher than those 35-54 (5 percent) and those 55+ (2 percent). Just 28 percent of those 18-34 say they have reduced their intake of animal fats, vs. 33 percent of those 35-54 and 46 percent
of those 55+.

“Whether it’s the segment of millennials that is focusing more on taste and cost or the segments focusing more heavily on health and nutrition, the flavor of food matters,” observed Anita Jones- Mueller, MPH, President of Healthy Dining, in a recent Restaurant Nutrition. “This generation has high expectations for taste and isn’t afraid to let restaurants, friends, peers and followers know whether or not those expectations have been met… Whatever your guests are ordering: a nutritious option or an indulgence; a high-end sit down meal or a quick-serve combo, taste should dominate.”

As Jones-Mueller puts it, millennials are also increasingly known for their shifting perception of what’s healthy. “In previous generations, the term may have equated to low-calorie or low-fat choices that lacked delicious appeal, but this is no longer the case,” she notes.

“Trans fats are out, and minimally processed animal fats — in the form of lard, derived from pork, and beef tallow — are decidedly making a comeback,” agrees Eric R. Gustafson, CEO of Coast Packing, the number one supplier of animal fat shortenings in the Western United States. “Millennials are concluding that animal fats have been demonized for too long. The reality is that animal fats, in moderation, are actually good for you, and the replacements for them are far worse than originally thought. And in today’s foodie culture,
taste is increasingly on par with health concerns.”