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Young people’s food values an opportunity for Saskatchewan farmers, conference hears

Attendees of the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference learned how younger generations are shaping the food industry at a session on Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Younger generations might be best known for their influence online, but on Wednesday, Saskatchewan farmers heard their power extends well beyond the internet and into the food industry.

Food producers at the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference in Saskatoon heard that many young people’s food choices are based on health, animal welfare and environmental sustainability. 

He highlighted the popularity of plant-based patties as a shift in the food industry driven by young people.

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“They’re looking more towards what they call eating with a conscience,” speaker and AGVISION Media founder Kevin Stewart told Global News.

Generations Y and Z are also more inclined to order food online than eat at a restaurant, Stewart said.

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“They want their food on the couch or on the go,” he said.

“What that does is it changes business models. It forces people to adjust and look at different ways of supplying this because they want their food mobile.”

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Younger generations make up a significant portion of farmers’ customer bases, so it’s important to understand their habits, Stewart said.

“There is an opportunity here because these young people spend more money on food than they do on clothes,” he said. “That’s the environment we’re in. It’s disruptive, but it also creates opportunity.”

Food producers can innovate in the face of change and expand how they define their businesses, Stewart said. He asked the audience at the conference to consider whether they’re beef producers, or technology organizations focused on creating innovative beef products.

“The future is about people who can develop an appetite for the change,” he said.

“Innovation is going to be the thing that writes the cheque.”

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