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How Demographics Are Impacting College and University Foodservice

Gone are the days of a college dining programs expecting to attract students just because it's located on campus.

Today's college students have smarter, savvier culinary preferences, and it's causing university foodservice operators to change their game to keep them on campus instead of crossing the street for something better. C&U operators understand that many students have the disposable income to dine off-campus.  Therefore, they must be competitive with both the variety and quality of their food offerings to keep them on campus.

However, what does "better" mean, and how do demographics drive it?

For starters, it's all focused on Generation Z, the largest demographic segment in the history of humankind. Based on Bloomberg analysis of United Nations data, Gen Z will comprise roughly one-third of the entire global population this year, edging out Millennials as the largest demographic for the first time.

Depending on which source your reference, a quick scan of the internet shows the following Gen Z character traits:

  • Less use of television
  • Hyper aware - they know what's going on all of the time
  • More focused on products versus experiences
  • Entrepreneurial and competitive
  • Motivated by security
  • Digital natives, having grown up with connectivity
  • Diverse and multicultural

So based on just a cursory review of Gen Z, how do their likes and dislikes, and general characteristics translate to college and university foodservice? How are they changing menus and service delivery? What hot flavor profiles do they crave?

Let's take a look.


If you're interested in the trends that will impact your foodservice program the most this year, download our e-report today!

 


ETHNIC FOODS

If Gen Z is the most diverse and multicultural generation in our nation's history, it goes without saying our college dining centers should reflect that. Additionally, college and university campuses are often filled with international students and faculty, giving on-campus dining facilities a greater reason to include ethnic and multi-cultural menu options. Flavor trends will certainly change from year to year, but the fact they're becoming more diverse will not.

PLANT-BASED FOODS

Gen Z is eating healthier for themselves and the world at large. They're looking for better ways to engage in sustainable practices, and food choices are a large part of those efforts. From salad bars to meatless burgers, college and university foodservice directors enjoy a growing list of products and ingredients that make it easier to provide meat-free meals. Plant-based or vegan menus also assist in keeping food cost at a reasonable level. Animal proteins are typically more expensive than plants and plant-based menus are better for the planet.

SUSTAINABILITY

Yes, we just mentioned sustainability to some degree by mentioning plant-based meals, and yes, we've already talked about sustainability on college and university campuses in a previous blog, but we cannot overstate how important sustainable practices are to Generation Z. From fresh and local sourcing, to sustainable seafood and antibiotic-free proteins, this generation cares about clean, sustainable food more than any in history.

A SENSE OF COMMUNITY

Though some say Gen Z is more concerned with a quality product than a quality experience, when it comes to dining, experiences still matter. Eating isn't just about feeling full or accessing nourishment; it's about finding a place to unwind, to socialize, and having a sense of community, an important aspect of college life that can often be so difficult to find for those who are new to campus.

"There's school or work and there's home, but how do you create this kind of third-place getaway?" asks Costel Coca, a design principal at Anaheim-based Webb Foodservice Design in an article in Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazine. "That's what companies like Starbucks have done so effectively, and that's where much of college and university dining is headed," he says. "When we start thinking about kitchens and foodservice, we're now starting with the experience and the story we want to tell in the facility before getting to its functional aspects. It's about a couple of key factors. One is a desire to create a neighborhood vibe, and that's being done, in part, via micro restaurants. We're designing restaurants more than we are food stations, and there's a heightened focus on the aesthetic value of the facility."

TECHNOLOGY

Generation Z is one of the digital natives, essentially meaning they were raised with smartphones from the very beginning. They've been "connected" their entire lives. With this level of technology usage comes an expectation that technology should make our lives easier, and this mentality extends to foodservice. From mobile ordering to convenient pick-up, the next generations expect technology to play a major role in how they eat. Sustainability is an important college and university foodservice trend. Would you like to learn about more relevant trends? Download our free 2019 Foodservice Trends Guide to see the other trends impacting our industry.

Demographics is just one of many factors that's already impacting college and university foodservice.  Be sure to download your copy of our e-report that lists the top trends you can expect in the 2019-2020 school year.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched six other trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!

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4 Ways to Make Your College Foodservice Program More Sustainable

4 Ways to Make Your College Foodservice Program More Sustainable

Sustainability is not only popular amongst today's college-aged students; it's also an easy way to save money.

Sustainability is often seen as being more complicated than it really is.  Bottom line, the less we waste, the more we save. That goes for our reputations as well as our wallets.

More than ever, younger demographics of students are interested in foodservice that's not just good for their bodies. They're looking for foodservice that's good for the environment as well. A trip across campus at your old alma mater may look the same in some ways, but step into the student union dining hall and it might look totally different.

Today, colleges and universities have a wide range of foodservice delivery components. When properly combined, they can produce a process that helps create a more sustainable foodservice program.  The University of Michigan is a great example.  Their foodservice department is actively incorporating various sustainable practices with the goal to become carbon-neutral in 10 years.

While it's great to set the bar really high like this, it requires extensive planning and a great deal of patience to work a 10-year plan.  However, there's always some low-hanging fruit that's ripe for the taking and easy to grab too.  Here are some practical tips that you can immediately implement to help your college and university foodservice department become more sustainable right away:

FOOD WASTE

Food waste is by far one of the most important foodservice trends of 2019. As Americans, we waste roughly 40 percent of our entire food supply, and this is no different on our college campuses. Students are leading the way on many of these initiatives. Some prime areas to begin exploring college foodservice sustainability include programs that use sophisticated menu management systems to assist in forecasting, purchasing and production. Some software even measures and monitors food waste production in the dish room. Check out these food waste reduction resources from the Environmental Protection Agency for more ideas.

BUYING LOCAL

Many college and university operators buy local for many sustainable reasons, often to decrease the distances required to transport food.  Trucking and shipping not only add a layer of cost to ingredients, but they also add carbon to our atmosphere. More than ever in the history of college and university foodservice, operators are sourcing ingredients closer to campus from local farmers, ranchers and artisans, and in some cases, ingredients are grown or raised on campus.

CLEAN INGREDIENTS

Foods grown sustainably are often organic which means they're almost always antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and pesticide-free. Are there additional costs associated with better, cleaner ingredients? Of course, but students are driving these demands and they're also willing to pay the difference when they know they're helping contribute to sustainable efforts.

“When budgets are tight or there are pressures to raise revenues or save costs, it’s best to start with menu engineering,” says Shawn LaPean, a food consultant at Blendid, a manufacturer of autonomous robotic kiosks that prepare and serve custom blended beverages.  “For instance, instead of serving a 4 ounce burger, consider serving a 3 ounce burger to ensure you maintain a perception of value, whether you manage an ‘all-you-can-eat’ or a cash operation.”  Shawn further states that changing the portions slightly without lowering the value sometimes enables operators to afford to include sustainable and organic products on their menus instead of conventional products.  He also says that “sustainable and organic products from local suppliers is of primary importance to customers.”

UTILITIES & FACILITIES

The fourth main component to sustainability involves the amounts of utilities it takes to complete a service. Operators are looking to continuously improve the efficiency of every aspect of their operations - from water and gas, to electricity and refrigerant, the quantities you use impact the world as well as your wallet.

Foodservice is one of the largest consumers of energy over any other type of operation, and that's why foodservice equipment and supplies are so critical in reducing usage levels of our valuable resources. From on-demand ventilation, to energy-efficient blenders, a serious examination of the equipment used in a college or university kitchen can help reduce utility bills. There are many other ideas like these detailed in an article in Community College Daily.

Sustainability is an important college and university foodservice trend. Would you like to learn about more relevant trends? Download our free 2019 Foodservice Trends Guide to see the other trends impacting our industry.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched 7 foodservice trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy of this quick resource guide today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!

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7 Ways Foodservice Operators Can Reduce Food Waste

Seven Ways Foodservice Operators Can Reduce Food Waste

Americans waste a ton of money on food. In fact, estimates show we throw away nearly 30% to 40% of our food supply.

How much does that total? Nearly $160 billion. Imagine if you threw away nearly a third of your money every time you opened up your wallet or pocketbook. It goes to show we don't need documentaries or people like Anthony Bourdain telling us to "use everything, waste nothing," though that certainly doesn't hurt.

The good news is our collective culinary conscious is quickly awakening to the food waste reduction challenge. This trend has been growing steady in recent years, making it onto foodservice trend lists ranging from the National Restaurant Association to our own 2019 Foodservice Trends Report.

So if everyone is starting to realize the importance (and profitability) of reducing food waste, what are some of the basic steps foodservice operations can take to make it happen?

RETRAIN OURSELVES

Study after study tells us "sell by" or "use by" dates are subjective and not accurate. Societal training tells us an apple or a tomato with a blemish or bruise isn't worthy of serving or eating. We often tell ourselves something is bad even though that very well might not be the case. If we learn to retrain ourselves with facts and to work with foods that may appear imperfect, we've taken the first step toward reducing food waste.

RETRAIN OUR STAFFS

Like most sustainability practices, training team members to be mindful of food waste can go a long way. Just like you might include shutting off lights in a walk-in as part of a process manual, including best practices for reducing food waste can work too, especially when training includes the cross utilization of ingredients.

TRACK WASTE

You can't reduce food waste unless you know how much you're throwing away in the first place. With food waste audits and data systems, operators can learn baseline key performance indicators that will provide goals for improvement in the future. Even better, the nonprofit ReFED recently issued a report called the Restaurant Food Waste Action Guide which states that tracking and analytics can benefit the restaurant industry by increasing profits by more than $250 million each year.

MANAGE THE ORDERING AND STORING

How is food packaged? Is there a way to break down shipments and store them in smaller, more useable portions? Are the storage facilities operating at optimal capacities? These are all questions that can help operations order the right levels of ingredients and store them in the right conditions. To reduce food waste, make sure production schedules are accurate.

GET CREATIVE

We throw away so many items that can be used in other applications with just a bit of creativity. Let's take the orange, for example. In the front-of-house, a bartender might carve off a twist every now and then to top off the perfect Negroni. The orange itself might go unused and wind up in the trash at the end of the shift. In the back-of-house, the saucier might use fresh oranges as part of a light cream to top that night's special dish, scallops l'orange. The rinds will probably go in the trash at the end of the night. Do you think these two people could use the same orange?

RETHINK THE MENU

There's no doubt about it. Much food waste falls directly on the customers. According to American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It), guests leave about 17% of food on their plates on average. By reconsidering portion sizes, offering half orders, or providing greater customization, less food will go in the can and more profit will come to the man.

GIVE BACK

All across America, we have food banks and non-profits that will take unused foods and give them to those in need. After all, if we can prevent 30% of our food from going in the trash, that food needs to wind up in the hands of those who need it the most. For operators, giving back can also bring financial benefits as well as altruistic ones. Many operations can experience donation tax incentives for giving unused food to these types of charities.

Food waste is one of the top micro trends of the overall trend of sustainability. Sustainability is listed as the second trend in our 2019 Foodservice Trends & Solutions e-Report, which you can download here. Check it out to review all 12 trends that we see as being most important to operators this year.

2019 Foodservice Trends Report CTA