Report Summary “Clean Label Values among Millennials and Generation Z”

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The 2018 report by Modor Intelligence estimates the global clean label market to reach $45.6 billion by 2023, and individuals interested in eating clean will ultimately shape and define what clean eating is all about.

What is clean eating, clean food and clean label? To the general public, the term clean label has little to no meaning. However, when it comes to clean eating and clean food, the term becomes more personal and individual.

In focus group discussions with Millennials and Generation Z, we asked participants about clean food, clean eating and clean label and to define the concept and terms. Among this diverse set of eaters from Baltimore, Md., we found a number of interesting insights regarding clean but also interesting insights about awareness, taste and trade-offs, as well as these ideas and concepts. Take a look at the report, “Clean Label Values among Millennials and Generation Z,” for more details on these and other interesting findings. In addition to Millennial and Gen Z attitudes toward clean eating, we found:

  • Little awareness about “clean label,” but most of the focus group participants understood the overall concept of clean eating and clean food. Many even defined clean eating and clean food as a “peace of mind thing where you just feel better about yourself.”
  • Meal occasions matter the most, and eating occasions dictate what food is eaten and for what occasion. For example, several participants wouldn’t consider lunch and dinner the same, and therefore these participants would select and eat different food items for these different eating occasions.
  • Taste remains king and is the No. 1 reason why participants buy certain foods. Likewise, when asked if they would accept a product that tasted differently, the majority of focus group participants agreed they would not accept a difference in taste, especially for their favored foods. Similarly, in the 2018 Food & Health Survey, taste ranks among the top reasons Americans buy certain foods and it has been the No. 1 reason for the past 10 years.*
  • Price was considered a high priority, and many participants elevated it higher than other purchase-decision factors such as healthfulness. Many in the focus group discussions perceived clean label products as being similar to organic options, thinking that it would carry a higher price tag or “not taste as good.”

Additionally, we asked about sources of information and familiar foods, and we even asked participants to review an ingredient list. Check out the report to see what Millennials and Gen Z had to say about artificial ingredients.


Millennials: Influencing Food and Product Development

Millennials are a population of over 83 million and, according to Dr. Aurora Saulo of the University of Hawaii, “Their cultural diversity affords them the knowledge and confidence to explore the broad spectrum of foods and ingredients and a higher demand for an increased variety of ethic dishes from global destinations our parents never dreamed or heard of.”

It is with this increased demand for exploring new flavors and the value placed on food that the clean label market will continue to proliferate and expand to create new products for this growing population.

Generation Z: The Influencers of Tomorrow

Affectionately known as Gen Z, they are less inclined to have developed palates for exotic flavors, as many of them are just starting out on their own. As time progresses and they continue to move upward, they too will become a guiding force for the future of food and clean food product development.

Looking ahead, we can easily see a market with more variety and more choices. Eaters will have the ability to find a gluten-free muffin that looks and tastes the same as a regular muffin, or their favorite jelly candies made with ingredients derived from nature—more food choices at the same or possibly a lower price. It’s the power of the eater that will influence what we buy today and the clean label products that will be available tomorrow.

The report, Clean Label Values, is a glimpse into the shopping carts of a growing segment of the population. In it, you can learn more about our findings, what eaters think about clean food and why many define the concept as “a peace of mind thing.”