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Insight of the Day: Dining through the ages: what food trends resonate with each generation

The Technomic session at the 2024 National Restaurant Association Show highlighted the following food trends that resonate with each generation:

Gen Z:

  • Indulgence:  Loaded dishes and excess appeal to Gen Z, but indulgence can also mean healthy, nutrient-dense options.

  • Mashups:  Unique combinations like Nashville Hot Chicken Baos are popular, but authenticity and transparency are crucial.


  • Brand Loyalty: Millennials are loyal to well-known brands and appreciate transparency in ingredients and preparation.

  • Transparency:  They expect clear information about their food, both in restaurants and office cafeterias.

Gen X:

  • Potatoes:  French fries, mashed potatoes, and other potato dishes are favored by Gen X.

  • Indulgence: Similar to Gen Z, they enjoy indulgent descriptions and loaded dishes.

Baby Boomers:

  • Classics:  Menu items with the word "classic" in the name or description appeal to Baby Boomers.

  • Ribeye:  Ribeye steak in various forms is a popular choice.

  • Global Cuisine:  They enjoy a variety of global dishes due to their travel experiences.


  • Indulgence: Like Gen X and Gen Z, they are drawn to indulgent descriptions and large portion sizes.

  • Transparency:  They value clear information about ingredients and preparation, similar to Millennials.

In addition to these generational trends, the session also discussed the importance of farm-to-school initiatives, highlighting the example of Monett R-1 School District in Missouri. The district partners with local organizations to source beef and pork for its nutrition program and teaches students about the cattle industry and local agriculture.

Overall, understanding the food preferences of each generation and incorporating local ingredients can help restaurants and foodservice operations create menus that appeal to a wide range of diners.

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