By Chris Gretchko, TetraPak

Millennials (individuals born between 1982 and 2004) are a discerning group of consumers – foodies who care as much about health as they do about their meals. In fact, the majority (63%) see food and drink as a way to improve their health. As a result, millennials are reaching for healthy, on-the-go options that not only suit their busy lifestyles, but provide healthy dietary staples. 

This is a significant new trend. As the current most powerful purchasing generation (spending approximately $600 billion each year), millennials have become a disruptive force in the food and beverage industry.

At Tetra Pak we’re continuously analyzing trends to get more insight into the eating, drinking and purchasing habits of this powerful consumer group. To meet the expectations of millennials, we must take a close look at their consumption habits and behaviors, leveraging what is inherently beneficial to dairy while delivering products that keep the industry and its products relevant.

‘Easy’ healthy food, not fast food

As the group that is most likely to consume their meals on the go, it is no wonder millennials prioritize convenience. Many (41%) say they’re willing to pay more for products that make their lives easier.

But “easy” is not to be confused with fast food, which 51% of millennials say they actively try to avoid. Busy as they are, these young consumers are open to trying new things and seeking out – even paying more for – natural and organic selections that offer specific health attributes.

In the dark about dairy’s benefits?

With their attention to health and nutrition, it may interest some millennials to know that the latest USDA recommendations, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, suggest that many consumers would benefit by increasing dairy consumption. The guidelines advocate dairy products in nutrient-dense forms, suggesting increasing intake of fat-free and low-fat (1%) dairy, including milk, yogurt and cheese.

The Tetra Pak Dairy Index takes a deeper look at the many advantages of diets that include dairy. Not only is milk rich in calcium, drinking it regularly can help improve bone health, control weight and blood pressure, and protect against conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.

Develop exciting dairy options for millennials

Since millennials are more open to trying new things than other generations, it’s time to focus on offering them new options and appealing ways to consume dairy beverage and products.

While members of this generation agree with the health benefits of milk, according to the Tetra Pak Dairy Index, many feel that dairy offerings are lacking in variety and falling short when it comes to their expectations for exciting, innovative products.

To better capture millennials’ beverage needs, many companies are exploring innovative new dairy based products such as post-workout recovery drinks, weight management options and dairy drinks that help promote restful sleep.

Move more milk with on-the-go packaging

There is a clear opportunity for dairy purveyors to get more creative when it comes to capturing the attention and purchases of millennials.

Products that appeal to on-the-go lifestyles are likely to gain traction with these younger consumers. Ready-to-drink, shelf-stable carton packaging, for example, not only retains the taste and nutrition of beverages, but protects the contents for at least six months (without refrigeration), until the packaging is opened.

Dairy products packaged and produced “green” will also resonate. With consumers citing packaging as a reason for purchasing products, responsibly sourced materials will likely grab the eye of millennials with environmental concerns. This refers not only to the packaging itself, but to the contents, as well. For example: Was the product produced responsibly, that is, in a way that reduces environmental impact?

As the dairy industry continues to evolve, knowing more about the nuanced food and beverage habits of millennials will only help to revitalize its offerings.

For further reading