GENERATION GAPS From kale smoothies to convenience foods and good old fashioned home cooking. Our Grocery Eye highlights generational differences in our healthy eating beliefs.

2018 has shown a 5% increase in those who consider their diets healthy, but there’s also been an increase in those rating the health of their diet as low (1-5 out of 10). Are consumers judging themselves too harshly or has the plethora of mixed healthy eating messages reached saturation point? Across the generations, views of what healthy means differ radically.

Meet the Millennials...

Despite an appetite for Free From and plant-based eating, Millennials are the most likely to rate their diet as unhealthy, with 6% saying they've become more unhealthy over the past year


  • As busy people, convenience food influences their meal choices. 40% often buy pre-prepared meals.
  • They are considerably more likely than older generations to prefer to snack during the day (44%) rather than eat full meals at set times.
  • Health is more likely defined by food types, such Free-From, Plant-based eating, and Superfoods, rather than low fat or low sugar, with active checking for gluten-free (15%), dairy-free (9%) and vegan (8%) products.

35-54 year olds...

This generation feel they are struggling most with healthy behaviours. 58% say they should do more about their health

35-54 year olds

  • They are least in agreement (47%) with the introduction of the Sugar Tax which came into force in April 2018.
  • Most likely to believe healthy eating is more expensive (74%) than eating 'unhealthy' foods.
  • Least likely to be avoiding any specific food types, and most likely (64%) to enjoy treating themselves to foods that aren't good for them.

Over 55s...

Are most likely to consider their diet as very healthy (53%), with fat content more concerning to them vs other age groups

Over 55s

  • Most focused on checking for no artificials, and show least interest in food trends. At least 1 in 3 actively check for artificial preservatives, colours, or flavours when buying food and drink.
  • 49% stick to their traditional behaviours and 3 meals a day, no snacking.
  • Have the time, inclination and affordability to cook from scratch. Almost three quarters prefer to buy fresh ingredients and prepare meals themselves.

As attitudes towards healthy eating become more fragmented, manufacturers and retailers would be advised to formulate different strategies and messaging to target different consumer subgroups.

Data comes from The Grocery Eye, our annual online study that examines the shopping habits of 2,000 supermarket shoppers to identify attitudes and behaviours towards purchasing food and drink.


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