By Barbara Olejnik
Poultry Times Staff
GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Consumers tend to be grouped according to their generation — like Baby Boomers or Millennials — as well as by ethnicity such as Hispanic or Asian.
Food marketers of today take into account the various backgrounds of their consumers as each specific group has tastes and preferences crafted by those backgrounds.
Boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, are generally a retired generation, but are still active and have a spending power of $2.1 trillion.
This generation backpacked across Europe and volunteered for the Peace Corps and in return gained an appreciation for new foods that they are willing to explore.
However, this generation, because it is aging, also looks to foods to provide needed nutrition and anti-aging benefits — food like whole grains, nutrient-dense eggs and yogurt.
At least 25 percent of Boomers say they are on a diet. But this means more than just eating foods with reduced fat or sugar. It also means they want foods that promote health and vitality — foods such as whole grains, fruits and eggs.
The American Egg Board notes that this has led to a change in Boomers’ food shopping habits. The global market for functional foods or super foods was forecast in 2015 to reach $130 billion, driven by health conscious Boomers.
Boomers also tend to visit restaurants more often – an increase of 8.6 percent between 2009 and 2013.
A Technomic report noted that Boomers spend more away-from-home dollars on breakfast than any other generation.
The Boomer generation often finds small groups of like-minded individuals meeting at a particular restaurant each morning to have breakfast together and talk of current events.
Millennials, which have been termed the “most diverse generation ever,” currently represent about 22 percent to 24 percent of restaurant spending and are expected to represent 40 percent of restaurant revenues by 2020.
The Millennial generation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is made up of a diverse group of individuals – 54 percent white, non-Hispanic, 22 percent Hispanic, 14 percent African-American, 7 percent Asian and 3 percent Multi-Ethnic.
This younger generation’s spending power has been estimated at $170 billion.
This group, however, advocates for locally grown, sustainably raised and non-processed foods that are healthful as well as good for plant Earth. They have also been identified as having an adventurous spirits, seeking ethnically diverse foods and of a liberal social outlook.
These traits have led to new restaurant chains devoted to the Millennials and providing the foods that they want and expect.
AEB said that customization allows vegetarian proteins like eggs to replace meats, spice levels to be personalized and unusual mix-ins to be added. “Millennials want what they want, how they want it, when they want it. And with the4 size of their influence, restaurants are moving toward giving them just that.”
Millennials are also expected to have an effect on the rest of consumers — with fresh foods, as opposed to processed foods, having more influence on food up purchases.
Consumption of fresh foods, defined by AEB as fruit, vegetables, fresh meat, poultry, fish and eggs, grew 20 percent between 2003 and 2013. Those foods are expected to grow at breakfast with a 9 percent increase in morning “fresh food eatings” by 2018.
The Hispanic population in the U.S. is second only to that of Mexico. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that this population will continue to grow and by 2060 will reach an estimated 129 million, 31 percent of the U.S. total. This population also currently controls about $1.5 trillion of U.S. buying power.
A majority of Hispanics in the U.S. are born in the U.S., a fact that some food marketers overlook.
AEB notes that reaching the Hispanic consumer is similar to marketing to Millennials because of the fact that most of them are U.S. born and raised Millennials with all the traits of the Millennial generation.
Both groups, AEB points out, view dining as a social event, enjoy exploring new cuisines, value natural and fresh quality foods over packaged foods, are very digital in their communications and use of smart phones to access the Internet.
While recent immigrants like the foods they grew up with because it reminds them of home, second generation Hispanics are already home and their homeland food includes pancakes, burgers, smoothies and chicken tenders.
“They love their abuela’s chilaquiles, but a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit eaten at a quick serve restaurant with their family is just as much a part of their world,” states AEB.
The National Restaurant Association, in its annual survey of American Culinary Federation chefs, found that ethnic-inspired breakfast items were among the top 20 “hot” food trends. Korean cuisines came in at No. 2 and Southeast Asian was No. 3.
Asian-inspired breakfast items are getting more attention and food manufacturers have been increasing their production of these foods.
Reasons behind this increase include the fact that the number of Asians in the U.S. population rose 43 percent between 2000 and 2010. In addition, Americans are getting serious about healthy dining and eating less processed foods, which are hallmarks of Asian cuisine.
Asian-inspired flavors beginning to be seen on U.S. breakfast menus include soy sauces, mango cilantro, ginger, garlic, basil and lime.
One item, Sriracha, is a spicy sauce from Thailand that is often used with fried eggs, seafood and meats.
A couple of U.S. restaurants have incorporated this flavor into their regular menus. Bruegger’s Bagels offers a Sriracha Egg Sandwich while Subway offers Sriracha sauce on any sandwich.
Technomic’s 2013 Breakfast Trend Report states that 30 percent of consumers aged 18 to 24 and 46 percent of those aged 25 to 34 are looking for more ethnic items and flavors to be offered at breakfast. The Asian breakfast trend fits into those desires.