Gas stations, such as Mendez Fuel in Miami and Jake’s Pickup at a Chevron station in Washington, may know something that many of us in the industry are missing — that there is a very captive audience for organic food and juice at the place where you get your gas each week.
Interestingly, this was confirmed by a recently released report from the USDA Economic Research Department, which sheds light on the eating and shopping habits of Millennials.
According to the Pew Research Center, there are an estimated 79.8 million Millennials (ages 18 to 36) compared with 74.1 million Baby Boomers (ages 54 to 72).
With the Millennial population expected to continue growing until 2036 as a result of immigration, and the Baby Boomer population expected to decrease as a result of mortality rates, the Millennial demographic will only become more influential as the years go on.
Given the importance of this age group, the way that Millennials eat and shop should greatly factor into how organic food companies deliver products to the marketplace.
Here are some highlights from the USDA’s report:
* Millennials are demanding healthier and fresher food, and spending less of their expenditures on food at home (FAH).
* Millennials devote the smallest share of food expenditures to grains, white meat, and red meat.
* Though Millennials spend less on FAH in total, they allocate more proportionately to prepared foods, pasta, and sugar/sweets than any other generation.
* As Millennials become richer, they apportion more of their FAH budget to vegetables, suggesting that the Millennial generation may have a stronger preference for fruits and vegetables compared to older generations.
* Millennials spend, on average, 12 minutes less eating and drinking than Traditionalists (born before 1946), who devote the most time toward those activities at 77 minutes per day.
* Millennials spend significantly less time on food preparation, presentation, and cleanup—55 minutes less than Gen X’ers (born 1965-1980), who spend the most time at 143 minutes per day.
This time observation supports the finding that Millennials purchase more ready-to-eat foods; nearly two-thirds of Millennials reported buying some form of prepared food within the prior 7 days, suggesting a preference for time savings.
* Millennials place more importance on convenience and experiential attributes. For example, Millennials shop more frequently at gas stations; use same-day delivery services; and are more likely to buy organic food, hot sauce, energy drinks, and artisanal alcohol beverages.
The most obvious takeaway from this USDA report about Millennials centers around convenience. Millennials want food that makes their lives easier. That means more places to buy food, less time to prepare it, and the need for on-demand delivery services. Brands that can take advantage of this preferred consumption habit will only benefit.
However, the most interesting aspect of this report was that Millennials are shopping more frequently at gas stations.
Yet, how many organic products are now sold at gas stations???
Very few, if any at all.
This is an enormous but widely-ignored opportunity for organic food companies, especially when trying to reach Millennials.
Organic brands are always talking about being in Whole Foods, Kroger, Costco, Target and the rest of the major national and regional chains. Without question, these are vitally important retail outlets in which to have a presence.
But no CEO has ever told me how many gas stations their product is in.
While being in gas stations may not have the cachet of a Whole Foods, it is where Millennials — the most influential and dominant demographic in our country — are increasingly shopping for food.
With an estimated 121,000 gas stations in the U.S., we at Organic Insider believe this is a distribution channel that organic brands ought to explore.
Have a great day!
Max Goldberg, Founder
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* Plenty of news in the restaurant world to share with you.
* In New York City, Twelv, a super-upscale Japanese restaurant which serves organic sake and tapas, is scouting for locations in the West Village and Soho.
* Bar Food, an organic vegan pop-up restaurant, has just opened in In Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood.
* Pressed organic juice company Suja has launched a new branding campaign Drink Plants. Take Their Power!
* Expected to draw more than 3,000 farmers and agricultural professionals, MOSES Organic Farming Conference will be taking place February 22-24 at the La Crosse Center in Wisconsin.
* Another week, another set of companies depart from the Grocery Manufacturers Association. This time, it is Hershey and Cargill.
* Walter Robb, former Co-CEO of Whole Foods, will be delivering the keynote address at the Leadership Awards ceremony at this month’s Fancy Food Show in San Francisco.
* Center for Food Safety has launched Trump Watch, a watchdog website for the Trump Administration’s Actions on Food, Agriculture, and the Environment.
* TAKE ACTION: As I wrote about in Organic Insider a few weeks ago, the Trump administration killed the Organic Animal Welfare Rules. While the likelihood of it being overturned is extremely slim (i.e., no chance), it is important for us to officially document our opposition to this move, so that it is in the public record for future administrations.
* Please take action by midnight on January 19th and you can do so HERE.