2007 Menu Development study: Footloose and trans fat-free

B&I on top of cutting-edge menu development.

In addition, nearly three-quarters of operators are not sourcing produce locally, while 69% aren't currently purchasing any organic products whatsoever.

The experience of David Collins, foodservice manager for Union Pacific Railroad's corporate headquarters points up the challenge ahead for operators wishing to source locally.

“The biggest surprise for me, from the vendors, is that many of them just blew us off," says Collins. “I guess we are a kind of pioneer in that area, at least in this regard." Two segments, Colleges and B&I, are placing more importance on culinary expertise in their kitchens. Sixty-three percent of colleges and 57% of B&Is employ an executive chef, compared to 27% of hospitals and 6% of schools.

In addition, one-third of B&I respondents have a sous chef on staff, followed by three-in-10 colleges—a segment, meanwhile, in which 30% of respondents employ a pastry chef (up from 20% in 2005).

And more institutions and companies are seeing benefits in bringing chefs out to the front of the house to manage as well as do menu planning. Companies like Bon Appetit have long employed chef-managers in their accounts, and this fall Princeton University will begin the switch to a culinary-based management system. Dining Services Director Stuart Orefice explains that each of the campus' three large residence halls will have three culinarians on staff: chef-manager, executive chef and sous chef.

How do operators keep these culinarians' skills sharp? Send them to trade shows, say 72% of respondents; conduct in-house training/workshops, 66%; facilitate on-line training, 25%; and have them attend institutes, schools or academies, 24%.

Such skills are in demand as the palate of the noncommercial customer grows increasingly sophisticated and demanding, especially in terms of ethnic cuisines "not to mention healthful yet bold-tasting options." In fact, Thai food, according to the FSD study, is once again the No.1 “hot new ethnic cuisine" among noncommercial operations, followed by Mediterranean/Greek. Thai, no surprise, is also the No.1 new ethnic cuisine operators plan to add to menus this year, followed by Indian and Mediterranean/Greek.

Other Menu Study results show that:

"Portable meal volume rose in B&I but appears to have waned in Colleges and Hospitals. In 2006, it accounted for 30% of B&I meal volume (1% greater than 2005), 17% of hospital volume (down from 30%) and 15% of college volume (down from 23%).

B&I gained ground in this area in recent years as Corporate America has reallocated dining space for other purposes; customer demand for portable meals has grown; and operatorsâ€"especially contractors, which dominate the B&I landscape "have reformulated operations to meet demand for grab-and-go meals (both hot and cold).

Looking ahead, just 20% of operators expect their portable meal volume to increase in this year.

"Just over one-third (36%) of all operators do display cooking, Disregarding schools, where display cooking is least likely to occur, the percentage of operators setting up display cooking stations skyrockets: 63% of B&Is and 65% of Colleges.

It's no secret that display cooking pushes key buttons in the customer satisfaction equation: freshness, customization and experience. As such, 49% of all operators expect their use of display cooking as a service style to increase this year, since, say 59% of them, customer volume increase on those days when display cooking is offered. On average, it boosts customer counts by 16%, they say.

Customization, in fact, is becoming more important in many areas of the dining facility. For example: 24% of operators are preparing meals to-order at delis; 23% at breakfast stations; and 22% at grill stations.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The Los Angeles Unified School District has lifted its ban on flavored milk in an effort to reduce food waste, the Los Angeles Times reports.

After implementing the ban in 2011, the district noticed that many students would simply throw away their unused milk containers, causing them to end up in landfills. In order to combat the problem, the district’s board is launching a four-part study in 21 schools that will examine different ways to encourage kids to drink more plain milk.

One of the theories proposed is that students will be more likely to drink plain milk if they...

Industry News & Opinion

As Harvard University’s dining staff strike continues , the school has added an extra $25 to student accounts, providing more flexibility for students to eat outside of the dining halls, The Harvard Crimson reports.

The extra funds were added to Crimson Cash and BoardPlus accounts, which students can use to pay for food both on and off campus.

Aside from some technical issues with payment processing, students are grateful for the extra money, according to The Harvard Crimson.

Since the strike began two weeks ago, students have complained about food quality in the...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo aims to reduce carbon emissions by 34% at its foodservice and facilities management sites by 2025, a goal it says it will reach through such changes as converting cooking oil into biodiesel fuel and using energy-efficient HVAC systems.

In announcing this endeavor toward sustainability, Sodexo—which manages more than 32,000 sites globally—noted that over 7,200 of its sites in North America recycle aluminum and paper, and 8,640 recycle cardboard.

Managing Your Business
alumni worker

It’s a sure sign that a school is doing something right when its students want to come back and work as adults. From the standpoint of the foodservice director, though, there is plenty to gain from retaining homegrown talent—call it the ultimate return on investment. In the wake of back-to-school season, two dining programs with a robust alumni contingent share their thoughts on hiring former customers.

Local expertise

At Georgia Southern University, about one-third of Eagle Dining Services’ 107 full-time employees are alumni. “They way we do things on our campus may be very...

FSD Resources