NEW YORK — Young adults plan to balance out their comfort food intake by adding more plant-based and functional foods this year, according to a new survey from The Food Group.
The food and drink marketing agency surveyed 200 adults between the ages of 21 and 40 across the United States and found that nearly half plan to buy more plant-based products, even though the majority are s identified as meat eaters or flexitarians. Nearly 6 in 10 plan to increase their purchases of functional foods, with fruits, vegetables, seafood and non-alcoholic beverages like coffee, tea and kombucha among the top categories they are likely to choose.
Still, The Food Group expects the pandemic-driven comfort food trend to continue in 2022, with 33% of respondents planning to eat more comfort foods this year and 44% planning to eat about the same. quantity than last year. Two-thirds of consumers said they ate comfort foods three or more days a week.
Pizza, tacos and fried chicken were among the top comfort foods, but Gen Z and Millennial shoppers plan to balance them with plant-based options, like topping their pizza with pepperoni or sausage without meat, according to the survey. Ice cream, cookies, and donuts were among the top sweet/dessert items, while potato chips, beef jerky, and popcorn were favorites in the savory/salty snack category.
The vast majority (98%) of respondents said that it is at least somewhat important to eat functional foods, and 78% indicated that it is extremely or very important.
Functional foods and plant-based alternatives were particularly important for consumers aged 21-30. More than half (51%) said they had consumed more functional foods in the past two years, compared to 43% of consumers aged 31-40. are more likely to focus on healthier choices this year, with 66% of consumers aged 21-30 planning to increase their consumption of functional foods, compared to 53% of consumers aged 31-40.
Overall, 80% of respondents regularly purchase at least one meat or plant-based dairy alternative, along with almond milk, vegetable/bean products, non-dairy creamer, grain-based products and non-dairy ice cream among the most popular items. Forty-four percent of respondents said they would buy more plant-based products this year, and that number was even higher for consumers aged 21-30 (57%).
“The survey results indicate that the growth of the vegetable industry is not slowing down,” said Mark Cotter, chief executive of The Food Group. “Consumers consider a variety of factors when it comes to food, not just price and taste, but also nutrition, sustainability and how it fits into their lifestyle. “Functional comfort foods” will continue to be the trend as consumers look for ways to enjoy their favorite foods, but with more conscious ingredients. »