Italian cuisine among U.S. millennials’ favorites

Datassential’s trendologist suggests Italian producers continue promoting authenticity to keep younger generations interested in Italian cuisine

Datassential’s latest report on trends in 2022 reports Italian cuisine comes in third place for millennials living in the U.S. The publication, FoodBytes: 2022 Trends, looks at the possibilities for what restaurants may look like in the year 2050. Americans love Italian cuisine, so why is Datassential reporting a shift on global flavors? And what is the future for Italian cuisine? reached out to Datassential’s trendologist Mike Kostyo for answers.

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Datassential asked consumers what they would choose if they could only eat foods from one cuisine for the rest of their lives: Italian, Latin/Mexican, or Asian/Chinese. The results vary by generation. 47% of Baby Boomers said they would choose Italian cuisine and only 22% would chose Latin/Mexican. Compare that to Gen Z, with 45% saying they would eat Latin/Mexican cuisine for the rest of their lives, while only 26% chose Italian cuisine.


Italian food isn’t going away in the U.S. market. Don’t worry. Kostyo tells, “Cuisines don’t exist in a vacuum: consumers can like multiple cuisines at the same time. They eat foods from a wide range of cuisines over the course of a week”. Some factors that are driving the younger generations away from Italian cuisine: trend cycles demanding new concepts and demographic changes in the U.S. Kostyo added, “70% of Gen Z still says they love or like Italian food, and pizza and pasta are still their two favorite global foods overall”. Italian cuisine is still appealing to consumers. Throughout the pandemic, consumers embraced frozen and delivery pizza as well as eating more pasta at home.

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Italian producers should continue to promote authenticity and follow trends on social media to gain the attraction of younger consumers. Kostyo says the younger generation appreciates authenticity, “Telling the story of authentic ingredients and people in a way that resonates with younger consumers is key”. As for social media, pasta is a trend on TikTok. Pasta Grannies has gained popularity on the social media platform. In addition, American consumers have shown an interest in discovering pasta shapes that are less known in the U.S. Kosyto suggests producers should also look at some of the larger factors in the U.S. Such as the rise of plant-based foods and asking how does Italian products fit into this trend?

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The closest trend to Italian cuisine to look out for on the list is Indian pizza. On the list, there isn’t anything specific to Italian or really European flavors. Kostyo explains, “When you look at the foods that most skew towards the next generations of consumers, there are no Italian foods in the top ten that skew toward Gen Z, and only two that skew toward Millennials, espresso and Buffalo chicken pizza, the latter of which is a stretch to call ‘Italian’. When we look at the fastest-growing spices and sauces on menus, none of the top ten are Italian and spicy flavors dominate the list. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see Italian foods and flavors on the list in the future. There will be another burrata”.

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