Millennials Spend on Prepared Foods, Pasta, Sugar/Sweets: USDA Report

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Millennials Spend on Prepared Foods, Pasta, Sugar/Sweets: USDA Report

By GR Edit Desk - 01/03/2018

A new Economic Research Service study from the USDA analyzed how Millennials grocery purchases differed from those of other generations. The study found that Millennials, on average, devote less of their food budgets to grocery store (food at home) purchases and make fewer trips to the grocery store than the other generations examined. Millennials are demanding healthier and fresher food—including fruits and vegetables—when making food-at-home purchases, and they place a higher preference on convenience than do other generations.

Millennials made up roughly 20 percent of the households included in the ERS analysis that used 2014 IRI data. U.S. Census Bureau data, on the other hand, show Millennials accounting for 26 percent of the total population in 2014. Since some Millennials may still live with their parents, who are the primary shoppers, the lower share for Millennial households in the ERS analysis is not unexpected.

ERS researchers classified the IRI purchase data into 3 beverage categories and 19 food categories—13 fresh or minimally processed categories and 6 processed categories. Millennial shoppers generally purchase a larger share of prepared foods, pasta, and sugar and candies than the other generations. On average, Millennials devoted 13.6 percent of their at-home food expenditures to these three categories, compared with 12.4 percent by Gen X’ers, 11.5 percent by Baby Boomers, and 11.2 percent by Traditionalists. Millennial households also devote the smallest share of their at-home food expenditures to grains, poultry, and red meat. Prepared foods, sugar and candies, and pasta all require minimal preparation for consumption, while grains and meats require cooking.

Millennial households devote more of their at-home food spending to prepared foods, such as frozen entrees and instant breakfasts, than the other three generational groups. In addition, the slight negative relationship between income and prepared food purchases for the three oldest generations was absent for Millennials. Millennials’ preference for convenient, prepared foods could be due to a variety of reasons. Perhaps, some Millennials may lack cooking skills or interest in cooking. Or, maybe some Millennials prefer to spend their non-work time on activities other than cooking and cleaning up afterwards. In fact, Millennials spend significantly less time on food preparation, presentation, and clean-up. An ERS analysis of 2014 time use data revealed that, on average, this generation spent 88 minutes doing food preparation, presentation, and clean-up—55 minutes less than Gen X’ers who spent the most time at 143 minutes.

To read the full survey report, click here