Survey Finds Younger Generations Care More About Sustainable Food

According to a new survey conducted by The International Food Information Council (IFIC), members of Gen Z demonstrate a growing concern for sustainable food practices, especially compared to older generations. The 2022 Food & Health Survey marks the first time that the IFIC has reported on Gen Z's attitudes and behaviors surrounding food issues, and the study yielded compelling results.

The growing demand for sustainable food practices is not a new one. Rather, the issue has been on the rise among consumers for the past few years. Back in 2020, for example, Forbes reported that Americans prefer to choose sustainable food and beverage options, assuming taste and price remain about the same. This new data shows that interest in the issue is still surging in 2022, as the desire for sustainable food practices continues to grow rapidly.

The IFIC data was collected from 1,005 Americans, aged 18 to 80, who participated in an online survey, reported Food Business News. Overall, the findings suggest that food's environmental impact has become a more pressing issue for Americans across all age groups. 39% of all survey respondents said concerns about sustainability influence their food and beverage purchases — an increase from the 27% seen in 2019. Gen Z, however, is leading this shift in attitude: Per the survey, 73% of Gen Z respondents believe that they are more concerned about the environmental sustainability of their food choices than older generations, followed by 71% of millennials who believe the same.

What else did the study's findings reveal?

To illustrate their dedication to sustainability and the environment, compared to baby boomers, Gen Z respondents were more likely to choose food items that were labeled "small carbon footprint/carbon neutral" and "plant-based," according to the survey. However, Gen Z seems to feel they have less individual impact on the environment than you might imagine. Only 50% of Gen Z respondents believe that their personal food choices have at least a moderate impact on the environment compared with 67% of millennials. They are also less likely to be worried about food waste — 61% compared with 69%. 

The survey's other findings highlighted more key concerns for members of Gen Z, such as the relationship between mental health and one's food habits. Gen Z is the most "stressed" of the four generations, with 33% reporting high stress levels — more than what was reported in millennials (29%), Gen X (25%), and boomers (10%). Across generations, the highest stress levels were shown to correspond with snacking three or more times per day.

That being said, Gen Z was also concerned with the effect food can have on one's overall health, reported the survey. Specifically, Gen Z respondents said they looked for products that could positively impact their energy levels, sleep habits, mental and emotional wellbeing, and digestive or gut health.