2005 Portability Study: Meals on the move

FoodService Director's first annual portability study.

Toomey-Bueno indicates that her operation’s por­table volume roughly equates to the 25% non-commercial average. Most of that is pre-packaged salads, sandwiches and burgers, as well as hot foods that are wrapped to go. Both the temporary servery and the new café, once it opens, will feature a number of grab-and-go display cases, both refrigerated and non-refrigerated. There will also be a hot sandwich slide.

Another factor driving growth of por­table meal business pertains to the health appeal of items that are inherently portable—namely, salads, wrap sandwiches, and fruit or vegetable cups. That’s certainly the case at the Omaha, NE, headquarters of The Gallup Organization, where customers are looking for a lot of low-carb and regular wraps, points out Kerry Moore, Swanson Corp.’s foodservice director there.

Other popular portable items among Gallup’s customers include pre-made, grab-and-go salads (especially chicken and Caesar), cut fresh fruit and yogurt-fruit-and-granola parfaits. “We’re always expanding our wraps and sandwiches into the healthy area,” she adds. “And we try to promote them as healthy items.”

Moore notes that grab-and-go items generate 15% to 18% of total sales, with more on the way. “I would expect it to grow as we offer new items,” she says, and also because customers are used to being served quickly when they dine out.

More than half of all operators expect their portable sales to increase this year, with schools registering the highest number of positive responses. That may be because schools have the most room for growth in portable business: only 14% of current volume is consumed away from the cafeteria, according to the FSD survey. But that may change as school food authorities modify facilities and services to become more responsive to the needs of students—with the goal of increasing their participation.

For example, Somerset (PA) School District implemented a grab-and-go program in its high school, middle school and four elementary schools this year. “We put a full reimbursable meal into a package and students love it,” says Toby Horner, divisional vice president for Metz and Associates, which manages the account.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are featured prominently in the meal, he adds, in keeping with the market’s efforts to combat childhood obesity with more healthful choices.

Most operators expecting portable sales to increase this year say that will happen because of their need to respond to customer demands. Almost a third, though, plan a shift in preparation and service to the portable format.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

Industry News & Opinion

Panera Bread Co. announced today that it intends to buy the Au Bon Pain brand as a way of opening more bakery-cafes in colleges, healthcare facilities, office buildings, travel centers and malls.

Au Bon Pain, which was Panera’s sole business under an earlier incarnation of the company, consists of 304 bakery-cafes. Several units are located in noncommercial venues.

Panera owns or holds the franchise rights to about 2,050 restaurants, few of which are located outside of strip malls.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Immediately after the deal was...

FSD Resources