#foodporn: Millennials & Their Influence on Food Trends

Depending on who you ask, “Millennials” are generally thought of as the people who were born between 1981 and 1997. This generation went from cassette tapes and VHS to MP3 and Blu Ray. They are pre-smartphone, and for some, pre-internet. Despite their less than technological beginnings, millennials are the driving force behind many innovations from virtual reality to avocado toast.

We’ve come a long way since the very first cooking show aired in 1946. A self-taught home cook named Philip Harben graced the airways for 10 minutes, dazzling viewers with a recipe for Lobster vol-au-vents. There is a shift in our culture in the way we view food. Food isn’t only for sustenance it is to be experienced.

In fact, according to a recent Business.com article, “over a third of tourist spending is devoted to food,” and “the percentage of people specifically traveling for unique dining experiences rose from 40% to 50%.” In addition, there has been an increase in attendance at food festivals around the globe, as well as travel to rural areas, for those who seek a more farm-to-table experience.

People are not only travelling to satiate their taste buds, more and more millennials are taking their culinary adventures to their own kitchens. According to a study done by Cambell’s, “between 2016 and 2021, e-commerce sales of food and beverage will reach $66 billion, a compound annual growth rate of 38%.”  Meal kit delivery services are on the rise. Millennials not only want to learn how to cook healthy meals, they want to create post worthy plates.

Speaking of posting on social media, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the very entity that likely had a hand in aiding millennials in creating this gigantic culinary monster. According to the aforementioned Business.com article, social media sites like Instagram have fueled food tourism. When the article was posted in February of 2017, there were 76,239,441 posts using #foodporn and today that number has grown to 142,721,723 posts. That is nearly 23,000 posts a day just for that hashtag alone. Websites like Tastey share their binge-worthy short recipe videos on Facebook that make healthy cooking look simple to even the most novice home chef. Pinterest allows people to view, share and pin recipes which can heavily influence the popularity of a particular dish or even an ingredient. Sriracha anyone?

So what does this all mean? I can only guess, but to me, this means there is a positive shift happening. A rise in home delivery meal kits means more family dinners. A rise in “foodie tourism” means we as a society are more open to learning about other cultures. The rise in interest of where our food comes from means that sustainability will become more important to us. All of these things add up to what seems to be most important to the millennial generation…to eat well, and live well.

Have the latest food trends on social media influenced millennials or have millennials influenced food trends? It is much like the age old chicken and egg question. Only this egg is poached and tops a ramen noodle bowl.