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

This semester, the East Quad dining team at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is taking steps to offer more authentic global cuisine , Michigan Daily reports.

The team has partnered with the Office of Student Life to start a conversation with students on how best to create and serve Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Additionally, the university invited chefs from Japan and India to campus to help its chefs create more authentic recipes.

The school’s push for more accurate global cuisine was partially inspired by an international food event that got cancelled...

Industry News & Opinion
Madison food truck

The Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, Wis., has partnered with a local organization to debut a food truck that will serve healthy, locally sourced lunch options for Madison high school students, according to The Capital Times .

The truck, which was donated by the Emmi Roth Cheese Co., will visit four high schools Tuesday through Friday, spending a day at each campus. Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch can use the food truck as they would the school cafeteria for no-cost or discounted meals.

Members of MMSD and partner organization REAP Food...

Industry News & Opinion

Identifying prospective employees may be less challenging for foodservice operators than getting would-be recruits to complete the hiring process , according to a new study of why job applicants bail.

The report shows that nearly three out of fours applicants (74%) will drop their effort to be hired if they suspect management is racist, and two out of three (62%) will flee if they learn of sexual harassment allegations. Roughly the same proportion (65%) will halt their pursuit if they encounter indications of a gender gap in pay.

About half (45%) of candidates won’t show...

Menu Development
zoodles

Here’s how two operations are spotlighting produce this season.

Oodles of zoodles

Binghamton University underscored its growing focus on plant-based options with a recent zoodle pop-up on campus. The pop-up, which served vegetable noodle bowls in vegan and vegetarian varieties, sold out of the dishes in four hours. The Binghamton, N.Y., school aims to add zoodles to its regular menu in the fall.

A buffet boost

The dining team at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, recently re-evaluated its buffet offerings with an eye toward adding healthy options. It updated the fruit and...

FSD Resources