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Whole Foods takes closer look at Millennials

Poll: Young shoppers will pay extra for higher-quality, responsibly sourced food

Millennials will pay more for higher-quality food and show a predilection for products promoting health and wellness, transparent sourcing and environmental responsibility, a new survey by Whole Foods Market finds.

Of 1,006 U.S. adults ages 22 to 37 polled, 68% said they would pay extra for high-quality food, and 53% would do so for high-quality nonfood items like personal care and cleaning products, Whole Foods reported. However, those figures fall to 27% and 20%, respective, for those who “strongly agree” they would be willing to shell out more dollars for high-quality food and nonfood items.

Overall, 80% of respondents “strongly agree” (42%) or “somewhat agree” (38%) that quality is important when it comes to buying food, according to the online survey, conducted by YouGov for Whole Foods.

Whole Foods Millennial survey charts_quality_transparency - Copy.PNG

Fifty-two percent of Millennials said they would pay extra for high-quality, healthy ready-made meals, with 19% strongly agreeing that they would do so.

“We’re always striving to better understand our customers’ passions when it comes to food,” Whole Foods Chief Marketing Officer Sonya Gafsi Oblisk said in a statement. “Millennials don’t settle for just any food in their shopping carts, and neither do we.”

In the area of wellness, 67% of respondents try to eat healthy on a daily basis, while 59% said they buy food and beverages to help them achieve physical and emotional well-being. About half avoid eating or purchasing foods with specific ingredients.

Many Millennial consumers, however, encounter difficulties in trying to follow a certain nutritional regimen, the Whole Foods study revealed. Forty-five percent said that in the past year they tried a special diet or alternative eating approach, yet 63% found that it’s challenging to do so conveniently. Likewise, 52% agreed that it’s challenging to find the right products in grocery stores to maintain a special diet or alternative eating approach.

Among various dietary regimens, 63% of those polled reported that they’re trying to include more plants and unprocessed foods in their diet.

Millennials, too, exhibit a high level of interest in where their food comes from and how it is sourced, Whole Foods noted. Sixty-four percent of survey participants said how and where their food is sourced influences their purchasing decisions. Similarly, 65% agreed that transparency in food sourcing is important, with the same percentage indicating that transparency is key specifically when buying meat and seafood.

Fifty-five percent of Millennials reported that they’re willing to pay extra for products adopting animal welfare standards, and 65% prefer to buy responsibly sourced brands and products.


Along the same lines, half of Millennial shoppers look for food and beverages produced with less packaging and plastic, while 60% said they’re aware of the impact that their food choices have on the environment. Fifty-four percent indicated that they want to support mission-based brands that reflect their own values.

“The stories of how food is produced and grown matter to them — and to us. That is why we ban more than a hundred ingredients in the food we sell,” Oblisk added. “Going beyond the USDA requirements, we prohibit antibiotics and added hormones for all meats in our meat department, and we only sell sustainable wild-caught or ‘Responsibly Farmed’ seafood. Our standards drive the work we do, and if products don’t meet our standards, we don’t sell.”

Austin-based Whole Foods operates 483 specialty supermarkets in the United States, as well as 14 in Canada and seven in the United Kingdom.

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