Unilever: Gen Z Tastes Driving Culinary Innovation

Unilever Food Solutions Future Menu Trends reports shows adventurous Gen Z tastes are shaping menus and that plant protein use is on the rise

A report from Unilever shows that restaurant food containing plant-based protein is on the rise, and that the adventurous Gen Z palate is driving culinary innovation. 

Unilever’s second annual Future Menu Trends report features recipe inspirations, insights and practical tips drawn from the expertise of 250 in-house chefs at Unilever Food Solutions (UFS), as well as feedback from 1,600 food service professionals.

UFS is the dedicated foodservice business of Unilever, whose portfolio includes many of the world's leading food brands including Knorr, Flora, Colman's and Hellmann's. 

Unilever says the report is “a practical playbook of recipes that helps chefs get trending dishes on the table”, and that it also provides “a key touchpoint for UFS to engage with the industry”.

Among this year’s headline findings are that eateries are focusing on plant-based protein, because 89% of meat-free meals are eaten by non-vegetarians.

And adventurous Gen Z dining preferences are also driving menu creation, with so-called ‘flavour shock’ on the rise. The report describes this as “an anything-goes approach that takes ingredients and gives them “a serious and surprising culinary makeover”.

Unilever says Gen Z 'driving need for intense flavours' 

The need for intense flavours helped Unilever’s Knorr Professional Bouillon and Seasonings category enjoy sales growth of 15% in 2023, the company says.

Explaining the Gen Z trend, UFS Global CMO Angela Klute says:

“Gen Z demands bigger, better, more vibrant unforgettable experiences, seeing food as a form of escapism and regularly making dining choices based on the stories behind the food that they find on social media.” 

UFS CEO Star Chen says: “UFS is a business of chefs for chefs. Our close communication with food service professionals allows us to have an in-depth understanding of their needs and pain points, which consequently allows us to offer unmissable, superior products that help address those needs.”

Kees van Erp, UFS Global Executive Chef, says: “The Future Menu recipes offer us the opportunity to present our key products in action, and also to highlight how our innovations can address chefs’ pain points that we have identified in each market.”

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