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Whole Foods Market Survey Says Millennials Willing to Pay More for Quality and Transparent Sourcing

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Quality drives millennial food shopping in the USA, and they are willing to pay more for it, according to a new study released on September 9 by the Austin, Texas-headquartered Whole Foods Market chain. Eighty percent of millennials (those born between 1982 and 1997, also known Generation Y) as value quality shoppers when it comes to food, and nearly 70 percent are willing to spend more money on high quality foods.

These findings are part of a survey that examined millennial food, health and grocery shopping preferences, which was conducted independently by YouGov on behalf of the retailer. The national online poll, conducted from August 5-9, 2019, sampled 1,006 adults between the ages of 22 and 37 in the United States. About half of those participating identified as parents.

Another trend that emerged is more informed purchasing decisions. A majority of millennials want to know where their food comes from and how it is sourced. Transparency in food sourcing is important to more than 65 percent of millennials, particularly for meat and seafood. More than half of millennials will pay more for products that have adopted animal welfare standards and prefer to buy those responsibly sourced.

Food labeling and ingredient transparency are also key factors in millennials’ choices: Compared to five years ago, nearly 70 percent of millennials read labels more closely. More than 60 percent are more concerned about additives and growth hormones. Ultimately, half of millennials buy more organic products than they did five years ago.

“We’re always striving to better understand our customers’ passions when it comes to food,” said Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, Whole Foods Market’s chief marketing officer. “Millennials don’t settle for just any food in their shopping carts, and neither do we. 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. 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 them.”

Nearly seven in ten millennials spent more on food than on travel in the past year. A majority of those surveyed considered themselves to be “adventurous” eaters when it comes to food, and more than 60 percent make an effort to cook new dishes.

Special Diets

More than six out of ten millennials try to eat healthy food daily. Plant-based and unprocessed foods are becoming more popular, with 63 percent of millennials trying to incorporate them into their diets.

Over the past year, nearly half of millennials have tried a special diet, such as Keto and dairy-free. Fifty-two percent restrict ingredients due to health reasons.  More than half of those surveyed found that maintaining an alternative diet is often inconvenient so are willing to pay more for convenient, ready-made meals that are healthy and of high quality.


Sixty percent are aware of the implications their food choices have on the environment. About half actively seek out food and beverages made of less packaging and plastic.

About Whole Foods Market 

Acquired by Amazon.com, Inc. for $13.7 billion in August of 2017, Whole Foods Market has been in the business of natural and organic foods retailing for almost 40 years. As the first national certified organic grocer in the United States, Whole Foods Market has more than 500 stores in North America and United Kingdom.