If avocado toast grew to be synonymous with the Millennial generation, what food trends will their younger counterparts become known for? From dining out to grocery shopping to health food trends, dig into these quick insights exploring Gen Z’s relationship with food.

Dining Out: ‘Fast’ Is Key

Fast-food and quick-service restaurant chains win with this age group. More than 40% eat at fast-food restaurants most often, compared to just 26% of the general population (Gen Pop). They are also twice as likely to prefer fast-casual chains, such as Panera Bread, and four times less likely to dine at independent or locally-owned restaurants. 

One-quarter eat fast food at least once a week and a total of 68% do so at least once per month.

Price Is Also Important

When it comes to choosing where to eat, it’s not surprising that Gen Zers are more likely than the general population to say price and speed are important, as well as a restaurant’s atmosphere. 

Driving home the importance of price, 70% of Gen Zers who buy fast food have backed down from ordering at a fast-food restaurant in the past month due to higher-than-average menu prices. That’s compared to 59% of older adults.

Top Fast-Food Restaurants

Given the popularity of fast food among Gen Z, which brands lead? In a comparison of nine major fast-food chains in the U.S., Chick-fil-A takes the number one spot – two-thirds of Gen Z adults are favorable to the brand. That’s followed closely by McDonald’s.

Popular Pizza Chains

And a look at four leading pizza chains finds that Domino’s is king, earning nearly 60% favorability among Gen Z. Pizza Hut comes in at a close second.

Brand-Conscious Grocery Shopping

National restaurant brands tend to be viewed more favorably among Gen Z when compared against the general population. Brand is also important when grocery shopping. Thirty percent of Gen Z adults say that brand is more important to them than price when shopping for food, far outweighing the Gen Pop.

Where are Gen Zers most likely to shop for groceries? These young adults have more diverse grocery retailer preferences than the national average. They are far less likely to shop at large regional grocery chains, such as Kroger and Safeway. The most popular choices are supercenter retailers (such as Target and Walmart) and specialty retailers (such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods) or co-ops.

Grocery Preferences

When shopping, Gen Zers are more likely to purchase:

Organic Foods

Non-GMO Foods

Frozen Meals

Healthy Food Options

Diet-related health trends show up more prominently among Gen Z in other ways, such as consuming smoothies and filtered water.

Nearly two-thirds of Gen Z adults say they drink juices, nutritional shakes, or smoothies at least once per week.

And they are half as likely as the Gen Pop to drink unfiltered tap water, opting instead for filtered water. While close to one-quarter regularly drink bottled water, they are overall less likely than the general population to reach for bottled.

It’s clear that Gen Z is a generation of very diverse tastes. Consumer habits are likely to differ by demographics, such as region and income. However, broad trends do emerge that provide insight into this generation – one that is more likely to value brand and health, but is sensitive to price and convenience when making food choices.

More food for thought:

7 Quick Health & Fitness Trends That Lead Among Gen Z

Interest in Gluten-Free Foods Is Hot Among Gen Z Consumers and QSR Diners

5 Key Insights About Gen Z, Money and Finances