Back in March, a report was released by Ethics On the Go, from the Culinary Vision Panel's Mindful Dining Initiative Project, that found that younger consumers have increased expectation for ethical snacks and grab-and-go-foods. The study said:

In this study, 1,500 US consumers were surveyed about their attitudes towards ethically-sourced foods and how it impacts their dining choices of portable and grab-and-go foods outside the home. The study finds that while all consumers care about ethical eating, consumers under 35 years pay the closest attention to responsible practices behind menus.

Other points from the report included:

  • Where 50 percent of general consumers agreed organic foods tasted better, 60 percent of consumers under 35 equated organic foods with better taste.
  • Ethical efforts made in foodservice—from vegan food options to composting on-site—is the new cool "it" factor for Millennial consumers who have to navigate multiple dining options.
  • Millennials don't want to choose between their love of quick, grab-and-go foods and their desire to eat more responsibly. Compared to 57 percent of overall consumers who said there are not enough ethically produced snacks available to them, 64 percent of consumers under 35 said the same thing. The fact that many young consumers feel they cannot find enough fast, ethical grab-and-go options means that foodservice operators have an opportunity to stock their menus with choices that meet the criteria of ethical foods.
  • While consumers said that they love meat, many are also hungry to get more plants into their diets. 88 percent of all surveyed said that they were keen to add more plant-based foods and ingredients to their meals. To fulfill consumers' desire to both eat better and help the environment, foodservice operators are in a position to introduce more vegetarian and plant-based grab-and-go food options in their menus.

When I was in Chicago two weeks ago for IFT, I stayed at an almost-brand new hotel, The Moxy, which definitely catered to millennials (a category into which I fall, actually). Their entire lobby is basically a bar/hangout area, and they have a small taco place, Zombie Taco, if you're hungry. Zombie Taco also functions as a grab-and-go store, and as I perused the shelves one night, I was pleased to see many of the better-for-you products that we've written about here at Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, such as protein cookies, chips made with healthier oils, and more.

Zombie Taco itself offered a variety of tacos, including vegan tacos—I didn't get to try the Spicy Quinoa & Cauliflower taco, but it sounded delicious—and a variety of interesting choices most likely designed to appeal to millennials, such as a Charred Korean Beef taco, as well as a Braised Brisket option.

I did get to try a Thick Cut Jalapeno Bacon taco for breakfast the next day, which included marinated kale, vine-ripened tomatoes, and cilantro. Although I normally eat a lighter breakfast, it was quite tasty. 

It is interesting to see what lengths restaurants and hotels will go to in order to appease the millennial palate, as well as those looking for more "responsible" or "better-for-you" choices. If they continue to combine these efforts with trends such as the ones listed above, they should be very successful, indeed.