We're getting there! According to a new study from Piper Sandler, Gen Z's top spending priority is on food. Moving up from 21% of their money going to food in the fall of 2020, Gen Z now spends about 23% of their dollars on food, prioritizing healthier choices and more plant-based meats and snacks.

We've known for years that our dollars dictate what manufacturers will produce, and a new study from Piper Sandler shows that Gen Z is all about healthier food habits.

Food has the greatest share of spending dollars in upper-income males who are between 13-19-years old, with a focus on teen snacks and plant-based meats. According to the data, 54% of teens preferred 'healthy' snacks and nearly half (49%) were willing to try plant-based meats.

For a few years now, Gen Z has shown that they're into healthier eating, looking for more organic and natural foods that are additive-free (squeee!). This is likely due to the fact that they're growing up in a time where many of us moms are focused on the same, and we're paying more attention to (and teaching our kids to) the lists of ingredients in what goes in their bodies.

That said, though half the teens in the survey said they preferred healthy snacks, less than 5% of them listed a fruit, vegetable or nut as a favorite snack item. Gen Z has become a snack-focused group, looking for more grazing opportunities throughout the day over larger, sit-down meals.

They still seem to remain loyal to big-brand names as they're looking for snacks, with Lays on the top of the list since 2019 and PepsiCo still a high sharer in their listings. Additionally, teens' top snack brands for the 2021 survey include: Doritos, Cheetos, Campbell Soup's Goldfish, Mondelez's Oreo and Kellogg's Cheeze-It. Interestingly, many of those brands include cleaner or organic versions--inlcuding organic Doritos, synthetic dye-free Goldfish and gluten-free Oreos. Manufacturers ARE listening!

General Mills' Nature Valley made the top ten list of snack brands for the first time.

Their interest in plant-based meats is likely based on this concern for better health and health options, and experts predict this generation is likely to have more vegetarians than in the past.

Additionally, Gen Z is all about trying ethnic foods and personalization of meals. They seem to be more food curious than other generations, and desire unique eating experiences and flavors. That means manufacturers will have to up their game to compete.

PepsiCo Just launched a line of juice waters called Frutly. They're made without dyes, sugar or artificial sweeteners and they include electrolytes. The appeal? A Gatorade-esque drink teens will like because of the flavorful hydration and parents will prefer for its cleaner ingredient list.

All goes to show that the more we let retailers and manufacturers know we're paying attention, the more they'll work to get better offerings to us!

Image: VH-studio/Shutterstock