2005 Portability Study: Meals on the move

FoodService Director's first annual portability study.

Packing It In

Your portable meal may be only as good as the container in which you package it.

How can you turn brown-baggers into, well, plastic-clamshellers? With a better clamshell, some non-commercial foodservice operators say.

Precisely 50% of operators participating in FSD’s Portability Business-Builder Study say they plan on increasing their portable meal business this year by purchasing new kinds of packaging materials that enhance portability, maintain food safety and—maybe most importantly of all—hold up well in transport.

Foam containers are the most commonly used containers, according to the study: 71% of operators use them. Containers with clear lids—whether clamshell, plate or bowl—are also high on the list, indicating a growing emphasis on food helping to sell itself.

The clear choice: “Everything [we serve] is in clear containers,” says Kerry Moore, foodsevice director at The Gallup Organization in Omaha, Neb. “They’re expensive containers, about twice the cost of foam, but we feel the presentation sells the food.”

Foam and plastic are the dominant materials, according to survey responses, with only about one-third of operators saying they use paper containers. At Citigroup in Centen-nial, Co., “we don’t have [any] dishes or flatware,” says Linda Anderson, foodservice director. That means there’s less need for dishwashers, equating to some savings in labor.

“Normal” foam clamshell products are used with entrees, she adds, while soups and salads are taken to-go in containers with a black bottom and clear plastic tops. “We use foam and plastic for everything, not just to-go.”
The quest for more functional packaging continues:

  • A black, hexagonal salad plate with lid is used at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J., replacing a clear shell.
  • At an Aramark client (a financial institution) in New York, the container used is an elongated box that resembles an Asian food container but is longer and flatter, explains Greta Reinen, foodservice director. Plus, it has a poly-coated interior to prevent leakage.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in Amherst, Mass., is updating its lunch debt policy to no longer single out students, MassLive reports.

Under the new policy, students with lunch debt will be given the same meals as their peers, regardless of how much they owe. School officials will also be communicating directly with parents of students who have accumulated debt instead of through the students themselves.

The updated policy comes just before U.S. school districts will be required to publicly list their lunch debt policies, per new USDA requirements starting July 1...

Menu Development
eureka

Since California’s state motto is “Eureka!” it seems fitting that a recent conversation with the director of hospitality at San Diego’s Palomar Health led to the biggest aha moment I’ve had in a long time.

I called Jim Metzger in late April with the purpose of discussing Palomar’s recent commitment to the goal of making 60% of its total menu plant-based by this summer. It seemed a lofty number, and I was curious how the public health system planned to get there.

But my personal eureka didn’t come while we were talking about how Palomar had cleaned up the impulse-buy zones...

Industry News & Opinion

Labeling foods with indulgent buzzwords such as “sweet sizzlin’” and “crispy” can lead consumers to make healthier food choices , according to a recent study out of Stanford University .

In the fall 2016 study, researchers labeled vegetables in one of the school’s dining halls using terms from four categories: basic, healthy restrictive, healthy positive or indulgent.

The green beans, for example, were listed as “green beans” for basic, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots” for healthy restrictive, “healthy energy boosting green beans and shallots” for healthy...

Ideas and Innovation
sparkling water

Our carbonated soft drink sales at Earls.67 reflect a national trend; we’re continually down on carbonated soft drink sales by 8% to 9% on an annual basis,” says Cameron Bogue, beverage director at the contemporary-casual chain Earls Kitchen + Bar.

The issue with spa water

Many operators are intrigued with the offering, but they are learning that infused water can’t be offered at a cost to guests unless there is added value beyond cut-up fruit. Bogue says, “I was adamant that I didn’t want to charge for spa water.”

Agua fresca alternatives

At the original location of

...

FSD Resources