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Millennials are killing the junk food industry – and it couldn’t be sweeter

By Rachel O'Regan |


I Quit Sugar – Millennials are killing the junk food industry – and it couldn’t be sweeter

Millennials shoulder the blame for everything from the election to the economy to the price of avocado toast. Exhibit A:

One thing’s for sure, businesses are anxious about the power millennials have to set trends. And break them.

Junk food companies in particular are facing the worst sales in decades, and for once, it proves to be young people’s fault  – but we reckon they should be happy to take the blame for this one.

The fall of fast food.

In the last 20 years, the sales of sugary soft drink had declined by more than 25 per cent – and nothing, not “healthier” sweeteners, nor celebrity endorsement, could pull the companies from the fizzy depths.

Sales of soft drink have declined by more than 25 per cent in 20 years.

This pattern holds true junk food companies across the globe, including McDonald’s. So, have people actually stopped enjoying junk food? Not quite. But there are whispers of a revolution.

The generation gap.

“There is definitely a trend emerging of young people electing to lead a healthier lifestyle, more so than in our parent’s generation,” says millennial (and self-confessed foodie) Amanda.

The stats prove it – both Coke and Pepsi report sales slumps in the 18 to 24 demographic. And it’s not just because millennials have spent too much on avocado toast to afford a can of pop.

The hashtag #cleaneating has more than 27 million posts on Instagram.

If we look to the arbiter of trends, social media, it’s the same story. Bloggers and Instagram stars are educating their followers on the importance of healthy eating (admittedly, with varying accuracy).

The hashtag #cleaneating has 27,390,271 posts on Instagram at the time of writing this sentence (although it hasn’t exactly escaped backlash of its own).

“There are many incredible, inspirational health advocates on social media showing how easy and beneficial it is to lead a healthy lifestyle,” Amanda says. “Young people want to share their healthy choices.”

Dirty tricks.

The food industry is determined to beat millennials at their own social media game. And, while some campaigns are insidiously successful – Selena Gomez’ Coke campaign recently became the most-liked photo on Instagram – the desperation is generally cringeworthy.

A recent ad by Coca-Cola was recently shamed for its soppy storyline of brotherly rivalry. By the amount of Coke the brothers drink in the clip, it’s more teeth-melting than heart-melting.

For the most part, millennials are far too savvy to participate.

“Millennials are becoming so much more conscious. I think the marketing isn’t going to have a big impact,” says Amanda. “Fast food is a trap for hidden nasties – I would rather be in control of what I put in my body.”

The future is now.

And millennials are ready to act.

Research already shows that the next generation of teenagers who are “exposed” to the manipulation of the food industry are more likely to rebel and choose healthy options. We just need to provide a pathway – with proper education, on choosing and cooking real food.

The junk food industry is afraid of being killed by a new generation. So let’s give them something to really worry about.

Are millennials killing the junk food industry? Let us know your thoughts.

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