NEW YORK — Most consumers are willing to try products made using food technology, according to research from Ketchum. The New York-based communication firm found Gen Z is more open to tech-assisted food than older generations, though consumers of all ages are warming up to the idea of cell-cultured foods, gene editing, synthetic biology, molecular modifications and other emerging technologies.
Seventy-seven per cent of Gen Z consumers said they are likely to try food made using technology, compared to 67% of millennials, 58% of Gen X and 58% of baby boomers. More than 70% of Gen Z is comfortable overall with the idea of technology being used to grow and make food, compared to 56% of millennials, 51% of Gen X and 58% of baby boomers.
Gen Z is becoming an increasingly influential demographic group. They already represent as much as $143 billion in spending power in the United States and are expected to account for 40% of retail purchases next year, according to Forbes. Wide acceptance of food tech among young consumers could have major implications for the industry, Ketchum said.
Younger consumers also are more likely to qualify as food evangelists, a type of influencer motivated by skepticism of the industry. Food evangelists tend to engage in conversations or share their opinions about food online multiple times a week. They’re also leading the charge for more transparency and trust from food manufacturers, according to the report.
While younger consumers demand more information from companies, Kim Essex, partner and managing director of Food Agriculture and Ingredients at Ketchum, cautioned they may be easily confused by emerging food technologies. Utilizing food tech to highlight sustainability, food waste reduction or animal welfare efforts may help drive purchases and bolster brand loyalty, she added.
“Getting this message right has never been more important,” she said. “Food evangelists are open to learning about food technology and will share more with their networks, but they are also quick to dismiss a poor explanation. Food evangelists in their 20s are especially powerful, not only for purchases they influence today but also for the future generations they’ll impact.”