Relative to previous generations, today’s teens and young adults are very knowledgeable about health and wellness, according to Gen Z 2018, a new report from The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Washington. The research firm explains that Gen Z may not follow all the rules today, but they are set for being savvy consumers in the future. Food and beverage manufacturers should consider that this demographic believes fresh, less processed foods are healthier and they should avoid processed foods.

“Gen Z are diverse, connected, aware, and socially and politically engaged,” says Laurie Demeritt, CEO. “With its oldest members just entering their 20s, this generation is poised to be a disruptive force culturally and as a market.”

Until they graduate high school, Gen Z rely on the adults in their lives to provide them with food and beverages. They currently tend to have simpler palates than millennials and are less motivated by health and wellness, while at the same time they are quite confident in the kitchen.

“A practical generation, they see cooking as an accessible life skill available to anyone with an internet connection,” Demeritt says. “While they know the ‘rules’ of health and wellness, they don’t feel a strong need to follow them just yet. They prioritize fun and flavor as often as, if not more than what is ‘right.’”

As they get older and start purchasing food for themselves and eventually their own families, it is likely that “right” will become a greater priority, more so than any other generation. Organic, natural and sustainability will be key differentiators that influence purchase decisions.