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Millennials are spending less on tobacco and more on fruit

Food & drink spending

Millennials are spending less on tobacco and more on fruit

Millennials are spending less on tobacco and more on fruit

Guy Scriven | August/September 2017

Doctors and parents both tell young people to eat healthily and drink in moderation, and the young finally seem to be listening. Recent shifts in spending in America indicate that they are spending more on healthy food and less on boozing.

The Consumer Expenditure Survey in the United States shows that since the turn of the millennium, households headed by under-25s have increased their spending on fresh fruit by 77% and on fresh vegetables by 47% (in real terms). According to data from Britain’s Office for National Statistics, the same pattern holds across the Atlantic. Berries and bananas, in particular, have become popular at breakfast, often stacked on top of a pile of yogurt or blended into a smoothie. Millennials have also cut back on boozing at home. Their annual spending on alcohol fell from about $560 in 2000 to roughly $270 in 2015 (or 360 fewer beers per household). Again, British youths are doing the same.

Source: Consumer Expenditure Survey, Bureau of Labour Statistics

Why youngsters are abandoning the sauce is still unclear. Some observers claim that because more of them go to university and are therefore working less, they have less money to spend on drinking; others that the influx of immigrants (who tend to swill less liquor) has brought down the average. Parents also get the credit: some suggest that they have taught their children to be healthy, others that their unattractive example has persuaded the young to live cleaner lives.

Oldies’ lifestyles, meanwhile, are showing little sign of becoming more health conscious. Households headed by over-65-year-olds have increased their expenditure on booze by 26% to $353, more than they shell out for dairy products. Older people have also cut back on tobacco at a slower rate than other generations and increased their intake of fruit the least.

As Americans get richer, they are spending a smaller share of their income on food and drink. About one-eighth of American budgets now goes towards keeping stomachs full. But dining out is increasingly popular. It accounts for 42% of Americans’ food budgets, up from 26% in 1970. Millennials are particularly inclined to indulge themselves in fancy eateries. A whole cohort of young people are becoming healthy foodies.

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