What Millennials Want

Millennial dining trends were the focus of a summit held by the National Peanut Board in May 2016. Food industry experts Maeve Webster of Menu Matters, Katie Ayoub of Flavor and the Menu magazine, and Tara Fitzpatrick of Food Management magazine presented on the topic. Millennial peanut farmer Casey Cox also shared peanuts’ sustainability story, an important factor for these diners. Eighteen chefs attended the intimate NPB gathering and created dishes for this impactful age group. 

Millennials recently surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living generation, according to the US Census Bureau. They make up about 25% of America’s population and they have nearly $2 trillion in buying power. Although they have less time and money than older cohorts, Millennials are the group most likely to dine out. About six in 10 (58 percent) of Millennials eat out at least once a week, whereas Boomers are half as likely to do so (29 percent).
A New Kind of Less
Millennials’ values drive their buying decisions. They aren’t just thinking about the menu when dining out, but they’re also considering the restaurant’s stance on sustainability, reducing food waste and humane treatment of animals.
“Less” was once defined as less calories and less time to prepare; however, when it comes to their food experiences, Millennials are redefining “less” to mean less altered, less negative impact, less restrictive, and more selective. 77 percent of 21-33 year olds would rather eat all-natural foods than low-calorie foods. 32 percent of 13-32 year olds say a “local” label makes them more likely to buy food when grocery shopping. 
Mind-Body Wellness
Millennials are often about balance, indulging at one meal and making a nutritious choice at the next. They have been called the “worried well” and have been named the most stressed generation by the American Psychological Association. For Millennials, health isn’t “not sick”; instead, it’s a more holistic version of mind-body wellness. It’s about what they will gain: strength, success in other areas of their lives and embracing imperfections.
A Desire for Experiences Broadens the Millennial Palate
Millennials generate roughly $180 billion in tourism revenue and comprise one-fifth of all global tourists. Travel affords Millennials a new level of intimacy by exposing them to native dishes, giving them the ability to “live” in comfortable yet enviable places and by providing access and experiences for all family members to enjoy.
Crafting Dishes for Millennials
Several dishes created at the National Peanut Board Millennial Dining Summit epitomized what food-focused Millennials are looking for.
  • Sweet Potato Latkes with Spicy Caramel Rhubarb & Apple Compote, Peanut Miso Crème Fraiche, and Baby Beets. Created by chefs George Sideras and Josh Janow with student chef Kimberly Camara.
Peanut Flour Latke
The chefs paid nostalgic homage to the traditional Polish latke. A portion of the commonly used russet potatoes are replaced with nutritious parsnips and sweet potatoes; and peanut flour replaces all purpose flour to keep the dish gluten free—a growing market. A twist on the conventional condiments of applesauce and sour cream, rhubarb is paired with apple for a compote with a hint of heat from sambal, and crème fraiche seasoned with red miso paste. Baby beets top it off to for extra color and earthiness. 
  • Grilled Prawn and Charred Avocado Tostada. Created by Chef Doug Adams and student chef Joseph Deleon Guerrero.
Grilled Prawn Tostada with Peanuts
Millennials have grown up with international cuisines. This dish puts a fine dining touch on the roadside taqueria. High-impact flavors of chile fried peanuts, pickled peanut and jalapeño salsa, finished with a drizzle of peanut oil, makes this tostado interesting to the Millennial palate.
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse with Caramelized Banana, Bacon, Peanut Tuile and Salted Caramel. Created by chefs Efrem Cutler, Zach Meloy and student chef Matthew Johnson.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse
The familiar flavor of a chocolate peanut butter cup is reimagined as a mousse. Everyone loves bacon and Millennials will be drawn to the dessert application. The peanut tiule creates a crispy, light texture and the peanut butter caramel sauce brings the flavors and textures together, 

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