The Young and Hungry

In a recent report produced by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, in partnership with CGA, findings show that young people aged 19-24 are binge drinking less and are in fact, favouring to spend their money on eating out.
With this generation rapidly becoming a foodie generation thanks to the influence of celebrity chefs and reality cooking programs, young consumers are eating out on average 5 to 6 times per month. And they aren’t just eating at the usual chains. Now conscious of things such as provenance, and calibre of ingredients, younger diners are choosing quality and are making the effort to support new local businesses.

Provenance is a buzz word that gets thrown about in many food and drink related articles these days, but what does it actually mean? Provenance, if you will, is the story of the food or drink you’re having; where did it come from? Who produced it? How far did it travel before it ended up on your plate or in your glass?

Why does this matter? Provenance not only impacts on freshness, which in turn impacts on nutrition  – who wants asparagus that has travelled 6000 miles from Peru and has sat in cold storage for weeks – but actively pursuing a product’s provenance gives consumers the power to support local farms and food producers. It also makes one conscious of seasonality, something we all should pay attention to more.

We are so used to having everything available all year that true seasonality is something a lot of people don’t understand. With the influx of imported fruit and veg, consumers are spoilt for choice, but may indeed be choosing things that are spoiled.

With key figures in the food and drink world driving the importance of seasonality and buying local, this is influencing young consumers and their food choices, which is a terrific thing.

Just because the rise of eating out is on the up, and nights of binge drinking are in decline, this is great for the drinks industry, as it means people are enjoying food and drink together and are becoming more interested in matching their food and drink. Their knowledge of what they are drinking is growing and palates are becoming more adventurous and discerning.

This is reflected in the rise of younger people returning to classic cocktails such as the martini and the old fashioned; gin and whisky were seen as old people’s drinks for decades, however, the reinvigoration of these markets is thanks to the young ditching vodka and its blandness and wanting drinks with flavour. The boom of gin producers over the last six years is certainly evidence of the demand for younger consumers preferring products with a story, products made by people and not companies and products made from quality ingredients.

Likewise the younger crowd has played a role in craft beer boom; London has so many wonderful small breweries and their open days are jam-packed with the under 30s enjoying their IPAs and oatmeal stouts – a drink that was vehemently out of vogue until recent times.

Education is why these changes are occurring. With information so readily available these days through the internet, social media and mainstream television and print media, consumers before they consume the actual food and drink, have consumed the knowledge and information behind it, and it is this digestion of facts that will better equip everyone, consumer and producer alike, to create a vibrant and thriving food and drink scene.