Photo: Danish Agriculture and Food Council

The way to young people’s hearts

Exploring opportunities from young people’s pork consumption

Shifts in young people’s eating patterns and food choices are both a reflection on their lives and general changes in society. To learn more about this, the Danish Agriculture and Food Council launched a comprehensive study of the eating habits of young consumers. Although the study is based on Nordic consumers it could well be that its findings apply to other markets too.

Meals are not defined by the choice of meat nor do they have a fixed structure. Although young people opt for meals that are simple to cook, it would be a mistake to think that their choice of food is of an inferior quality or highly processed. 'Simple' from a young person’s perspective may be delicious cuts of meat or sliced cooked meat that can be served immediately – perhaps as tapas or as a snack.

Young consumers are influenced by many of the same trends as older consumers. The young are influenced by the growing interest in food. They are more curious, experimental and interested in food and raw materials. Many young people are into health.It’s not just the content of the food they eat, but also its origin and quality. Many young people are concerned about the climate, the planet and animals, which is driving a growing interest in animal welfare, recycling, anti-plastic, food waste and the search for products and enterprises that help to give them a good conscience. Moreover, despite the perception that the young have more time on their hands, they are highly focused on prioritising their time and money.

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Photo: Danish Agriculture and Food Council

The world has become smaller. Especially for young people, who are eager to taste and experiment with food from across the world. Young people are also adventurous consumers, who are always on the lookout for unique experiences, including food.

As regards young people’s relationship with food and meat, the climate means more than might be expected. Animal welfare, origin and dissociation from production methods that are not perceived to have a high animal welfare standard are of primary concern. In terms of their experience, young consumers are pampered. They eat with their senses and are inspired to try products they read about on social media. However, while young people have been among the first to drink Matcha tea, they also have a growing interest in traditional food – almost a longing for the comfort food that grandma used to make and for traditional food eaten during festive seasons. In other words, food that gives young people a feeling of security in a chaotic world.

Even if young people do not eat much meat, and pork is not an integral part of their diet (apart from bacon, ham, roast pork and meatballs), there are many opportunities to boost consumption among the sector. Marinated pork in Asian dishes, tasty pork for Poké Bowls, climate-friendly pork terrine are just some examples. And what about the black-footed pig and all the other exciting pig breeds across the world? Then there are the new types of bacon and 'bacon' produced from Parma ham. The possibilities are endless.

Young people’s interest is aroused by the quirky and unusual. We can expect them to eat less meat but to be attracted to new cuts, breeds and products supported by interesting stories about quality, origin and provenance. Young people are largely inspired by social influencers – the people, companies and brands they follow on social media. New and exciting meat must therefore be 'out there' if young people are to discover it. More work also needs to be done to change the perception of pork so that it is seen as an exciting, healthy and sexy meat that can be enjoyed with a good conscience.

The information is based on the results from a comprehensive analysis of young Nordic consumers carried out by sociologist Eva Steensig, Steensig Partners on behalf of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council.

Read also: Masses of flavour in pork