Gen Z’s Complicated Relationship with Food: 23/24

Published 12 September 2023

2 min read

Global communications consultancy Ketchum has published The Gen Z “Say/Eat” Gap report, exploring the demographic’s complex and nuanced relationship with food. Here, Stylus highlights the key findings.

The survey of 2,000 US Gen Zers finds 63% feel too much pressure to change the world with their behaviours. This includes eating a certain way to show that they’re healthy (60%), care about the environment (51%), and support a political cause (48%).

However, their beliefs don’t match their food purchases – creating what Ketchum calls the Gen Z “say/eat gap”. While 76% say that sustainability is an important consideration when buying food, only 16% look for sustainable ingredients on food labels. And just 5% think animal welfare has changed their eating habits, despite 72% saying it’s an important consideration when food shopping. This has led to 62% of Gen Zers thinking their eating behaviours are “wrong.”

Elsewhere, these young consumers are enthusiastic and creative cooks, with 82% of them enjoying cooking at home. While 73% like experimenting in the kitchen, 63% are into trying new-to-them cuisines. Of course, Gen Zers gain inspiration online: 70% of those surveyed follow food-related influencers, and 70% are more likely to trust a food trend that has gone viral. A case in point: 55% of this demographic often combine multiple snacks to make one meal, much like those that exemplify the #girldinner trend that’s flooded TikTok feeds this year.

They’re also flexible with their culinary expenses: 59% regularly spend more than planned when dining out, and 40% don’t stick to a strict grocery budget. However (perhaps consequently), 50% of Gen Zers are sometimes concerned they won’t have enough food money for the week.

The survey of 2,000 US Gen Zers finds 63% feel too much pressure to change the world with their behaviours. This includes eating a certain way to show that they’re healthy (60%), care about the environment (51%), and support a political cause (48%).

However, their beliefs don’t match their food purchases – creating what Ketchum calls the Gen Z “say/eat gap”. While 76% say that sustainability is an important consideration when buying food, only 16% look for sustainable ingredients on food labels. And just 5% think animal welfare has changed their eating habits, despite 72% saying it’s an important consideration when food shopping. This has led to 62% of Gen Zers thinking their eating behaviours are “wrong.”

Elsewhere, these young consumers are enthusiastic and creative cooks, with 82% of them enjoying cooking at home. While 73% like experimenting in the kitchen, 63% are into trying new-to-them cuisines. Of course, Gen Zers gain inspiration online: 70% of those surveyed follow food-related influencers, and 70% are more likely to trust a food trend that has gone viral. A case in point: 55% of this demographic often combine multiple snacks to make one meal, much like those that exemplify the #girldinner trend that’s flooded TikTok feeds this year.

They’re also flexible with their culinary expenses: 59% regularly spend more than planned when dining out, and 40% don’t stick to a strict grocery budget. However (perhaps consequently), 50% of Gen Zers are sometimes concerned they won’t have enough food money for the week.