The continual parental reminder to “eat your vegetables” stuck with Millennials and Gen Zs because they are driving the growth in fresh and frozen vegetable consumption, according to a study released by The NPD Group, Chicago. However, many of the parents who offered the reminder are not eating theirs.

The study, “A Generational Study:  The Evolution of Eating,” says younger consumers, those under age 40, have increased the annual eatings per capita of fresh vegetables by 52% and frozen vegetables by 59% over the last decade. Boomers, ages 60 and up, on the other hand, decreased their consumption of fresh vegetables by 30% and frozen vegetables by 4% over the same period. 

Increased consumption of fresh vegetables is an outcome of the shift to fresh foods among young consumers over the last decade. Generational change is also partly responsible for the move to fresh, as younger consumers are adopting fresh at a much earlier age than the generations before them. Over the next several years, fresh vegetable consumption is forecast to increase by 10%, an increase that will be tempered by the lower eating rates of Boomers.

Frozen vegetable consumption, which was declining earlier this decade, is now on the rise due to the interest of more health-conscious Millennials and Gen Zs. Just as they did with fresh vegetable consumption, these younger consumers are eating more frozen vegetables than previous generations did at their ages. Although the category’s growth forecast is not as strong as fresh vegetables, consumption of frozen vegetables is forecast to increase by 3% through 2024.  

“Vegetable consumption among younger consumers is a reflection of their more health-conscious eating behaviors,” says David Portalatin, vice president, food industry analyst. “Our research shows that their attitudes about eating vegetables will not shift as they age and go through their life stages. Their parents and grandparents, on the other hand, may need a reminder from the younger generations to eat their vegetables.”