Food Our Way: The Lasting Impact of Millennials on U.S. Foodservice Menus

Press Release
Apr 26, 2018
Rockville (MD), April 26, 2018 — Millennials want it their way. These days that sounds cliché, but in reality the demographics’ quest for the unique, the novel, and the individualized has created fascinating trends in the U.S. food and beverage industry.

Namely, the shift toward greater focus on fresh, creative, and personalized made-to-order foods has been a game changing development especially in the fast casual foodservice segment, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in the report Millennial Menus: Culinary Trend Tracking Series.The impact goes beyond the limited “white, wheat, or rye” custom options of yesteryear to encompass restaurant meals that are bespoke in their entirety.

“The mix-and-match, ‘built it for me’ trend in fast casual has diversified to all sectors of the restaurant industry, from fast food to fine dining, as well as noncommercial venues. Yet while most obvious on restaurant menus, this trend is bigger than just foodservice. Among prominent food retailers such as Kroger and Meijer, meal kits are a trending example of how even grocery chains are working the do-it-yourself trend in fresh foods,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.

In the past, when customizable food options at restaurants were available, they were typically limited to DIY sandwiches, burgers, burritos, and pizza. But Millennials and other diners have inspired restaurateurs to expand into more diverse areas such as salads, new-wave Asian (including fusion noodles, stir-fry, and sushi), and boundary-pushing global cuisines. For example:

  • Trendy Salads: The salad niche has proven to be a natural place for experimenting with healthy alternatives to fast food. Concepts like Tossed, Sweetgreen, and Mean Greens tout locally sourced, fresh natural ingredients and a Millennial-style sensibility to alternative eating styles (including vegan and gluten-free), social consciousness, eco design, community-building via social media, and other hallmarks of the new generation. Customers choose their own greens, veggies, toppings and dressings, often accompanied by fresh-squeezed juice or a smoothie. If the menu includes a manifesto or statement of core values, you’re in the right place.

  • Next-Gen Asian Cuisine: The Chinese, Japanese, and Southeast Asian playbook for restaurants is being rewritten by the customization trend. From stir-fry to noodle bars to sushi, it’s not entirely about authenticity: it’s about new flavors and custom-built meals. As a result, a new wave of Asian fast casual restaurants is offering customized meals within the context of more sophisticated ingredients and authentic flavors, within a framework of pan-Asian culinary tradition.

  • Expanding Global Palates: The customization-oriented fast-casual format is also working for less familiar cuisines, such as Indian and Korean. The premise: Customers can control the experience even as they’re experimenting with new flavors and ingredients.

About the Report

An oldie but goodie from our back catalog, Millennial Menus is part of Packaged Facts’ stalwart Culinary Trend Tracking Series (CuTTS) . Each CuTTS report (75 pages plus) is designed to serve as an essential source for tracking culinary trends and opportunities in the restaurant, foodservice, retail prepared foods, and packaged food and beverage sectors. The report series empowers the menu and food manufacturing innovation of executives, strategists, chefs, and food research professionals in R&D/product development, market and consumer insights, brand management, and trade and consumer marketing.

View additional information about Millennial Menus: Culinary Trend Tracking Series, including purchase options, the abstract, table of contents, and related reports at Packaged Facts’ website:

About Packaged Facts

Packaged Facts, a division of, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer demographics and shopper insights, consumer financial products and services, consumer goods and retailing, consumer packaged goods, and pet products and services. Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services. Reports can be purchased at our company website and are also available through

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