Gen Z shows a disconnect between plant-based and vegetable-rich eating

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While Gen Z’s interest in plant-based food is growing, it is less likely to shop, prepare and eat fresh vegetables than any other generation.

There’s a disconnect between ‘plant-based’ and ‘vegetable-rich’ diets among Gen Z, according to new research by Mintel. Over a quarter of US consumers of this generation say eating enough vegetables feels like a chore, while three in 10 find it hard to make vegetables taste good.

Mintel global food analyst Melanie Zanoza Bartelme told FoodNavigator: “Gen Z is not seeing the need for vegetables and is reporting lower usage of all segments of the category.” She added that vegetable brands should reconsider their messaging to help young consumers understand the importance of vegetables.

The expert noted that one of the main reasons for Gen Z’s lack of enthusiasm with vegetables is that companies simply aren’t targeting them this generation. And even if they are, traditional marketing methods don’t work as well with younger audiences, who are more likely to respond to social media and influencer marketing via platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

While the generation is drawn to plant-based diets, it may not understand why “fibre-rich whole vegetables” should be part of a regular diet too, according to Zanoza Bartelme. While over four in five consumers aged 16 to 24 said they had consumed a meat-free product in the last month, that doesn’t refer to eating actual vegetables. “Vegetable brands should do more to help Gen Zs see the need for vegetables in a way that will resonate with them.”

The best way to appeal to Gen Z about eating vegetables is through social media. Many users discover and review new products on these platforms; in the UK, over three-quarters of Gen Z consumers feel brand image can be improved with the right social media partnerships.

Zanoza Bartelme said vegetable brands should take advantage of this belief in the power of social media platforms like TikTok: “Wherever the source, brands can partner with influencers who are passionate about vegetables and task them with helping Gen Z see veggies as a necessary and cool part of their diet.”

Mintel research also shows that in Canada, Gen Z cares more about brands that represent their personal values. Zanoza Bartelme says the generation is more likely to care about companies who prioritise ethical issues like climate change and workers’ rights. Another way of getting through the message of vegetable consumption to Gen Z consumers is, she notes, convenience, taste, fun, and offerings that mimic restaurant dishes.

Anay Mridul
Anay Mridul
Anay is journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.