Millennials are the gustatory generation gone wild. According to the market research and advisory firm Datassential, 44% of millennials surveyed consider themselves foodies,1 14% paid more on average than the general population for their last meal out,1 and 48% will try a new food just because it sounds interesting.2
Given stats like these and their taste for flavor adventures that favor wellness and sustainability (humanely raised, probiotic and non-GMO are their top descriptors3), millennial snack enthusiasts seem to have become ravenous consumers of specialty foods.
Health, wellness and specialty items account for 20% of products and 70% of dollar sales growth in the nearly $90 billion snack industry, according to Molly Hjelm, Vice President of Marketing for SPINS, a consumer insights, analytics and consulting firm for the natural, organic and specialty products industry.4
As Hjelm explained, “Consumers are really looking for brands that help them live their best, most healthy lives, and brands that play an active stewardship role.”4 The fastest-selling items include paleo (116.2%) and organic (9.8%), as well as items labeled non-GMO (12.1%), allergy-friendly (13%) and fair trade (13%).4
The High Ground Leads to a Higher Check Average
Good ethics seem to be a good way to encourage a higher check average among the millennial snack set, especially if the item is of the convenient grab-and-go variety. Nearly 70% of millennials surveyed are willing to pay higher prices for ethically produced grab-and-go food.8 Fifty-five percent of general consumers surveyed would also pay more.5 What’s more, 82% of millennial survey participants would like foodservice establishments to apply more environmentally friendly business practices.5
Given high demand from the millennial market, it may be no surprise that the shift to sustainability surged last year, with close to 40% of specialty food manufacturers producing sustainable products—a 22% increase from the prior year.6
Denise Purcell, head of content for the Specialty Food Association, attributes the explosive growth of specialty food into $140 billion+ industry to innovation.7 "We're seeing new flavors and new formats of food,” she pointed out.7 “Spins on classics continue to surprise us, and flavors from around the world continue to grow prominent in the marketplace. No matter where you look, something exciting is happening."7
The market research, trends and insights provider Mintel projects that the specialty product industry will sustain a 7.9% annual growth rate through 2021. “For a market this big, above $100 billion, that’s a really high growth rate,” said David Lockwood, Mintel’s director of consulting.8
Specialty foods are posting three times the growth rate of conventional food and beverage—and that’s without even factoring in foodservice, private label or price look-up items, or sales through Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe’s.7
Find out how our leading snack brands and culinary expertise can help elevate your menu and make boosting millennial business a specialty for your foodservice operation.