Latest research into young consumers’s eating habits found that 8-18 year olds prefer all-day breakfast meal concepts, such as smoothies and overnight oats.

Part of by Y-Pulse’s School Meal Innovation Lab, the annual initiative was undertaken on 900 ‘Gen Z’ students (8-18 years) to provide insight into their tastes and culinary preferences; add value to kids’ menus; and predict and understand future menu trends.

For the purpose of this study, Y-Pulse asked participants to evaluate 10 new menu concepts through photographs and menu descriptions. Each was created by a team of chefs and dietitians, and met school meal nutritional requirements – which the students were unaware of.

The three highest-ranked meals, described in the following words, were as below:

  • Banana Berry Smoothie (77%) A creamy smoothie made with berries, banana, yogurt, milk, and topped with fresh fruit and homemade granola
  • Overnight Oatmeal (64%) Creamy and hearty overnight oats in milk, layered with fresh fruit and yogurt, ready to grab on the go
  • Tex-Mex Breakfast Bowl (61%) A breakfast bowl with a blend of eggs, cheese and beans, served on top of roasted potatoes, peppers and onions, with salsa on the side

Sharon Olson, executive director of Y-Pulse, explained: “While we introduced a variety of menu concepts, it was interesting to see that the kids really gravitated towards items that were great for all-day breakfast, brunch and snacking.

“Today’s kids’s interest in all-day breakfast and snacking shows us that this is an area that operators should pay close attention to in years to come.”

She also provided three “takeaways” that operators can use to “learn about Gen Z’s expectations for breakfast:

Grab & go

If it’s portable, it’s lovable. Consumers between ages 8-18 liked items that are easy to eat on the go

Healthy halo

Gen Z consumers show inclination towards foods that they perceive as healthy. Top menu concepts included ingredients that were easy to identify and perceived to be healthy, which were clearly communicated in menu names and descriptions

Familiar with a twist

Respondents showed that they liked familiar ingredients that are presented with a culinary twist. Knowing how to present and communicate food to young consumers is a vital element to earning their customer loyalty in future years.