Gen Z Among the Hardest Hit By Food Insecurity

Food insecurity is a growing global problem, and within the U.S., Gen Z is among the hardest hit.

That’s according to Purdue University’s Consumer Foods Insight report, which reported 30% of Gen Z adults had experienced or are experiencing food insecurity. That’s compared to 17% of Millennials, 19% of Gen Xers, and 7% of Boomers.

What’s more, 30% of Gen Z households reported getting free groceries from a charity like a food pantry or church in the past 30 days, compared to only 8% of Boomer households. Purdue University also reported Gen Z was the most likely to choose generic, private label products over brand-named foods.

Seventy percent of respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat” worried about the effects of the Russia-Ukraine war on global food supplies, with an additional 19% saying they were neither worried or unworried. Only a quarter thought resolving the war should be a policy priority for protecting global food security. Meanwhile, 51% said increasing U.S. agricultural production was a way to hedge against rising food insecurity.

A Rising Issue in Europe

Food insecurity is also growing in Europe, with Norway-based food-bank operator Matsentralen Norge reporting it was distributing 30% more food when compared to the same period in 2021. It’s worth noting 2021 saw sharply higher demand compared to prior years due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, reported The Wall Street Journal (July 8).

Tesco Plc, one of the UK’s largest grocers, said it was seeing the effects, too, according to a May 10 article from Bloomberg.

“There’s no doubt at all people who have never had to go to a food bank are now having to do so,” Chairman John Allan said in an interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today program May 10. “I think we’re seeing real food poverty for the first time in a generation.”

Inflation Outlook

Erica Kuhlmann, a managing director at BMO Harris Bank, recently spoke with The Food Institute Podcast about the prospects for inflation.

“The main topic of conversation [at our recent conference] really centered on the impact of inflation…Some [attendees] had a view that this could last well over 36 months, but I think the general consensus is that it’s really a minimum impact of two years, and I would agree with that,” she said

Food Inflation Hits Record in June

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported food prices increased 10.4% for the 12-months ending in June, representing the largest year-over-year increase since February 1981. Food-at-home prices were up 12.2% for the month, while food away-from-home jumped 7.7% during the month.

Major increases were tracked across all six of the food-at-home categories, with cereals and bakery products showing the highest increase at 13.8%. Double digit increases were posted for meat, poultry, fish, and eggs (+11.7%) and dairy and related products (+13.5%).

Overall, BLS reported a 9.1% year-over-year increase in June for all the categories it tracked. Energy prices were up 41.6%, with gasoline (+60.6%) and fuel oil (+98.5%) helping to push up all categories.