Whether you identify as a foodie or you hate them, you've probably been hard-pressed to avoid the trends they've imposed on our food culture -- such as tapas, food trucks and farm-to-table, artisan everything.
Particularly if you’re a millennial. A study from Ypulse, a youth marketing research firm, recently surveyed how the young Americans approach food and found many differences how people ages 13 to 33 eat. They surveyed 1,000 people and separated their data by region, age, gender, race, academic status and parental status. The study was part of Ypulse’s monthly surveys, which tackle a broad range of topics that companies are interested in, trends editor MaryLeigh Bliss said.
Millennials are huge foodies, outspending all other population cohorts on restaurants by dropping $96 billion on food yearly, according to market research firm NPD.
But the Ypulse survey shows there’s quite a range in how young Americans approach food -- even if they say they're a foodie -- with pronounced differences among men and women and people of different racial backgrounds.
Around 42 percent of young men and women say they’re foodies. They were equally likely to try a trendy food, but differed on the type of trendy food they were likely to try.
Men were most likely to have tried trendy types of beer, such as craft beer, beer bars and beer pairings. That’s because men generally pick beer as their go-to alcoholic beverage, Bliss said. Women picked more healthy trends, such as spiralized vegetables and quinoa.
Aesthetically pleasing dishes -- such as meals served in bowls and poké, which is a raw fish salad -- were best at garnering female interest. Bliss attributed the hype those foods get on Instagram and Pinterest, which are majority women, to their female fandom.
“Females are more apt to have tried food in bowls, for instance, when there's a thousand different Instagram accounts featuring these beautifully arranged food in bowls,” Bliss said. “You see things that really are viral foods.”
There are even bigger differences when it comes to geography and race. People from the West and East coasts, followed by those in the Midwest, have tried more food trends compared with Southerners. Eighty-eight percent of people from the West said they had tried at least one trendy food, compared with 79 percent of Southerners. And those on the coasts had eaten a lot more of what was listed.
That’s probably because many of these trends originate in the coastal urban areas. “Most of these trends are fueled by and taking off in urban areas. Then you see a trickle-down effect where chains are impacted or chefs in the smaller cities adopt them,” Bliss said.
Of course, it could be that Ypulse, based in New York City, was simply more apt to chose food trends popular in Manhattan. Southern cuisine has its own distinct trends and style. Just because young people in this region don’t inhale quinoa or cold-brew coffee, it doesn’t mean they’re not inventive or adventurous.
After all, Southerners were eating kale long before Gwyneth Paltrow.
There's also a large race gap when it comes to trying these food trends. African Americans are less likely to try a slew of trends than millennials of other races. Nearly a third of them reported that they haven’t tried any of the listed trends, compared with 15 percent of whites and Hispanics and 18 percent of Asians. Despite that, more young African Americans consider themselves “foodies” compared to the other races.
Asian millennials were most likely of all to say they had tried a given trend, and that’s likely because many trendy foods come from Asian heritage. Take poké, which 26 percent of Asians have tried, compared with 4 percent of other millennials. It’s a Hawaiian dish, but chunked, raw fish served with sauce and veggies is common in many Asian cuisines. Fusion cuisine often invokes Asian flavors; it's twice as popular among young Asian-Americans.
Sweet and spicy flavors and meals in bowls were most popular among Asians and Hispanics alike.
“Those flavors are already in line with the cultures they've grown up in,” Bliss said. “It’s already something they've experienced to some extent.”
That might be why Asian American millennials are least likely to think of themselves as foodies. Eating raw fish or an otherwise American dish with rice noodles is hardly an unusual cuisine for them.