Do Different Generations Eat Differently?

Agroscope researchers analysed the dietary trends of the different generations in Switzerland. The findings help with the preparation of more-accurate dietary forecasts.

Familiarity with the consumption trends of the Swiss population is of crucial importance for the food sector. Agroscope researchers took a closer look at these trends, which reveal the different prefences of the different generations. Data from 60 food groups formed the basis for the research. The time period examined ranged from 1990 to 2020. Six generations ten years apart from one another and with years of birth between 1930 and 1980 were the focus here.

Differences in meat and citrus-fruit consumption

The demand for citrus fruit rose markedly in younger generations during the period under investigation, whilst the exact opposite occurred, albeit less obviously, for older people. This intergenerational pattern is important insofar as it indicates that the previously decreasing demand for citrus fruit will in future transform into a growing demand for it.

With meat, the situation is mixed. During the period examined, there was an increasing tendency for people currently between 50 and 70 years old to favour poultry, whilst younger people purchased increasing amounts of goat, lamb or mutton over the years. Here, it is apparent that a broad range can be on offer to cover all preferences.

Bean and pea consumption up and milk consumption down in all groups

Data from those generations that are increasingly eating vegan or vegetarian – i.e. the current under-35-year-olds born after 1985 – was not evaluated. Nevertheless, a bean- and pea-eating trend can be observed across all generations. By contrast, the entire Swiss population currently consumes significantly less drinking milk than in the 1990s.

Recording trends of this sort is important for all decision-makers in the Swiss food sector, as they highlight which products are subject to growing demand. Consumers, after all, are creatures of habit. Those who are keen e.g. on citrus fruit when they are younger will usually keep this predilection into old age, and products that are popular across all generations will also remain in high demand in future. These findings are not only useful for optimal organisation of the range of products on offer, however; they can also be used to deliberately ‘sell’ a healthier diet to a particular generation that relies too heavily e.g. on a meat-based diet.


  • The demand for citrus fruit rose significantly in younger generations during the period under investigation, whilst the exact opposite occurred, albeit less obviously, in older generations.
  • With meat, the situation is mixed: middle-aged groups preferred poultry, whilst younger people increasingly purchased goat or mutton/lamb, with a rising trend in both groups.
  • A trend towards higher consumption of beans and peas can be observed across all generations.
  • Nowadays, Swiss people consume significantly less milk than in the past.
  • The findings help improve the quality of dietary forecasts
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