2006 Portability Study: Portable meals gain ground

Sixty-eight percent of all operators expect their portable sales to increase this year.

Back to work: Presbyterian Hospital of Plano (Texas) is no exception. "More than 60% of our business leaves the cafeteria," says Mary Spicer, director of nutrition services, "mostly because of employees taking their food back to their offices." In a new tower on hospital grounds, for example, nurses prefer to take meals from the cafeteria to their break room.

Spicer doesn't stock a lot of grab-and-go items "because we have such a good foodservice program with made-to-order items," she adds. Yet, "basically anything we prepare can be packaged to go."

Portable meal volume at Plano, at 60%-plus, is far ahead of both the hospital and non-commercial average. The FSD study shows that portable meals generate 27% of sales in hospitals and 24% across the non-commercial spectrum. Customer counts, study data show, are high: 2,327 portable meal transactions (and $2,600 in total sales) per store, per week.

In some locations, portable meal sales rise so high that operators effect a wholesale change in style of service. According to the FSD study, 68% of all operators expect their portable sales to increase this year; in 2005, 55% felt that way.

For most of them this year (63%), it's because customers are demanding it. "Only 6.5% of our resident students eat a full breakfast," says Jeff DeMoss, executive director of dining services at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington. "Another 10% to 12% grab a muffin and coffee on the way to class and call it breakfast." This fall, he plans to convert two residence dining halls to grab-and-go only for breakfast.

He's also setting up a commissary to support demand for more than 1,500 grab-and-go sandwiches purchased daily. "We realized we need centrally located production to generate more product without using more labor," he adds.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
shrimp lemon

In an interview with Bon Appetit magazine, Victor Clay, a line cook at Nobu Dallas in Texas, reveals his two simple tricks to prep an average of 15 to 20 shrimp per minute.

First, use kitchen shears to split the back of the shrimp. Then, before removing the vein, run the shrimp under cold water, which will loosen the vein. This cuts down on cleaning time, and prevents cooks from having to soak and rinse the shrimp afterward.

Menu Development
beau rivage resort blended burger

Stealth health is so 1998. When author Evelyn Tribole’s original book on sneaking healthy add-ons into meals was published nearly 20 years ago, there may have been a genuine nutrition need to fill. But as today’s diners are increasingly requesting more produce at the center of the plate, another need has taken the lead: a desire for creativity. Here’s how operators are openly blending meat with other ingredients—or eliminating animal products entirely—to take protein to another level.

In April, dining halls at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., began offering the Beyond Burger, a...

Ideas and Innovation
desserts plate

We’re knocking down a wall in our bar area, which will create a more inviting atmosphere and allow us to host a coffee and dessert bar in the space on off nights when the bar is closed.

Industry News & Opinion
nacufs award

Ohio University Director of Culinary Services Rich Neumann was on Wednesday evening awarded NACUFS’ 49th annual Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.

Neumann’s foodservice career began as an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. After his first day as a student cook, he says, his production manager wanted to fire him because he was striving for perfection, not—as she put it—“now and fast.” But he kept with it, eventually moving up to student manager. “If I had quit, I would not be here today,” he says.

During...

FSD Resources