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Why Functional Foods Draw Millennials to your Restaurant

Posted by Michelle Kratzer on Jun 6, 2019 10:20:04 AM
Michelle Kratzer

What do 65% of diners seek out in food and drinks, whether dining in or out? Food with the added benefit of a nutritional boost. The functional food craze is blazing from what’s on the dinner table at home to fine dining, all the way to casual and quick service restaurants, drawing Millennials and Gen Z like few other things can.


functional food



What is Functional Food?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is no official definition,

but the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines functional foods as:


Whole foods along with fortified, enriched or enhanced foods

that have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed

as part of a varied diet on a regular basis at effective levels

based on significant standards of evidence.


Functional Food



This just means that these foods contain nutrients which not only supply nutrition, but provide additional health and wellness benefits. While there is no official standard from the FDA, the consumers who use functional foods don't seem to be bothered. The only proof they need is how well it makes them feel.

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Today's young adults aren't only interested in food without harmful ingredients. They want foods that actually do something for them; whether it’s collagen for skin, berries for antioxidants or probiotics to help with digestive processes and immune function. Food must do more now than just satiate hunger. It must provide our bodies with wellness enhancing benefits.



Brain Food

The High Functioning Millennial Brain


The US dominates the functional foods market and grows every year by almost 8%. Across the world, revenue for functional food is projected to increase from about 300 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 to over 440 billion dollars in 2022.


But these ingredients have always been good for us. Why are they becoming so popular now? The internet, and access to health information  are most likely the cause. Millennials, Gen Z,  Gen X and even most Baby Boomers have internet access at their fingertips, making  health information accessible any time they want it. This results in health educated consumers who are more finicky about what they put in their bodies.


Consumers can also access information about which ingredients are used by which restaurants; if they are trying to avoid something like gluten or dairy or GMO’s in their diet, they can check to see who offers them the options that suit their needs. Even at casual and quick service restaurants, consumers are looking for the foods that serve their bodies well.


To keep current in the ever changing food business, consider options that elevate diner health. If you are ready to cross over into the Functional Food zone, here are 3 things to remember:


Millennial Food

 The Millennial Happy Food Dance


  1. Target Millennials  and Gen Z

Not surprisingly, Millennials and Gen Z are leading the push for newer, healthier brands. These generations proactively guard their health by consuming healthy, natural foods and beverages. When they find something they like, they quickly share it with like-minded friends and family.


Millennial Food

 Millennial Functional Food Euphoria


2. Display Functional Ingredients

58% of consumers ranked eating a balanced diet as the most important way to sustain their health, over exercising, taking supplements and regular doctor visits. So, make sure that they know you offer what they want.


Display functional ingredients on signage or menus to inform customers of their use and the wellness function they serve or enhance. Just don’t overdo it. No one asked for a 10 page informational essay on the ingredients, or the results from a clinical study on the function performed. They just need to know what is in the food and what it will do. Even better, use the functional property of the ingredients in the name of the product on the menu or menu board.


3. Focus on These Top Health Concerns

If you don’t currently carry any functional foods, but you’d like to put one or two on the menu, choose items that alleviate common health concerns.


Here are 4 common health concerns to focus on, along with some trending sales information:



Tired? Several coffee companies are joining the functional food movement; Bulletproof Coldbrew brings extra mental energy and focus. Made with coffee, grass-fed butter and coconut-sourced "Bulletproof Brain Octane oil" to awaken the brain.


Ginger infused products can reduce fatigue by improving blood circulation and blood sugar levels. The industry is expected to grow globally to US$4.18 Billion by 2022.



Herbal teas like chamomile aid sleep by calming racing thoughts. The herbal tea forecast looks good at an estimated growth rate of about 5.1% up to 2023.



Probiotic plant based milks aid digestion. The industry grew almost 270% between 2016 and 2017.



Stressed out? Kava products have been used for centuries to combat stress. Kava Bars across the US are popping up to calm us down. The trendy drinks have enjoyed rising popularity across the US.



Millennial dollars

 $10 Trillion in Lifetime Buying Power


So, take a cue from Millennials. They comprise one quarter of the population and harness $10 trillion in lifetime buying power. When they want to spend those dollars on healthy fast food, make sure that you have something to offer them.


Need to know what your Millennial customers are thinking? SurveyMe can help get the insights you need to make your business soar. Call us or click on the image below.

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Topics: Business & Marketing, Business Strategy

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