The food and beverage industry is undergoing a remarkable transformation and at the forefront of this revolution is Generation Z—a generation with a taste for the extraordinary. Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z’s palate is distinctively shaped by their upbringing, lifestyle and values, making them a powerful force influencing the industry’s offerings.
Unlocking the world of Gen Z food and drink preferences
Gen Z places a premium on health, wellness, sustainability and ethical sourcing. Their food choices lean towards organic, natural and plant-based options, driven by their heightened health consciousness. A spirit of culinary adventure leads them to explore global flavours and fusion cuisine, constantly seeking new and exciting taste experiences.
When it comes to beverages, Gen Z is known for their love of tea, coffee and energy drinks, along with an increasing preference for non-alcoholic beverages, mocktails and functional drinks offering health benefits. Their flavour preferences are a reflection of their diverse cultural backgrounds and a desire for bold and layered tastes, favouring savoury and umami notes over excessive sweetness and showing a keen interest in spicy and tangy flavours.
Heralding the top Gen Z food trends
Plant-based eating is a key trend embraced by Gen Z, with a preference for vegetarian, vegan and alternative protein options. Bowl food, a blend of various ingredients in a single nutritious and flavourful bowl, has also captured their attention due to its alignment with global flavours and fusion cuisine. Furthermore, Gen Z’s penchant for health-conscious snacking has resulted in a rise in demand for portable and nutritious snacks like nuts, seeds and protein bars.
Reveling in the top Gen Z drink trends
Gen Z’s shift towards non-alcoholic beverages and functional drinks has sparked the popularity of mocktails, speciality sodas, kombucha, probiotic drinks and cold-pressed juices. Their commitment to health and wellness has propelled the industry to develop more innovative beverage options tailored to their tastes. Sustainability is another major driver, with Gen Z opting for eco-friendly and biodegradable packaging and showing a preference for companies actively reducing their carbon footprint.
Fusion of flavours for Gen Z palates
The bold and complex flavours favoured by Gen Z have led chefs and food manufacturers to explore new and innovative flavour pairings. Some popular combinations include soy sauce and honey, miso and ginger, sriracha and lime, kimchi and avocado, and turmeric and coconut, offering a harmonious balance of savoury, sweet and tangy elements that resonate with Gen Z’s taste buds.
Embracing innovation for Gen Z
The food and beverage industry is embracing the challenge of catering to Gen Z’s unique flavour profile with creativity and flair. Innovative ideas and products tailored to this generation include plant-based burgers and hot dogs, fusion cuisine like sushi burritos and Korean tacos, speciality sodas with enticing flavours such as lavender lemonade and cucumber mint, probiotic snacks including yoghurt-covered nuts and probiotic popcorn and cold-pressed juice shots like ginger turmeric and beet apple. These cutting-edge offerings encompass bold flavours, healthy ingredients and a strong commitment to sustainability, which are all central to Gen Z’s preferences.
Leading the flavour revolution with Lionel Hitchen
In conclusion, Generation Z’s flavour preferences are reshaping the industry in exciting and meaningful ways. As consumers with a passion for bold flavours, natural ingredients and sustainable practices, Gen Z’s influence continues to grow. To stay ahead of the curve and thrive in this ever-evolving landscape, companies must understand and cater to the unique tastes and values of Gen Z. By embracing innovative flavour pairings and trendsetting products, businesses can ensure their offerings align with the preferences of this influential generation.
Reproduced with kind permission from Lionel Hitchen, manufacturer and supplier of natural flavours and flavour ingredients to the food and beverage industry.
Mintel – 2023 Global Food & Drink Trends
Mintel – Gen Z: How brands can support their unique needs
Innova Market Insights – Gen Z target flavor experiences
The Food People – Love Your Lifestyle – Trend Predictions 2023/24
Gen Z flavours are available from Carst & Walker in South Africa.