2008 Menu Development Survey: The state of the plate 2008

Ethnic menu items continue to gain popularity among noncommercial foodservice operators.

Among the other areas that can impact menu development:

Staffing and training
Nearly 40% of all operators employ an executive chef, with B&I (82%) and universities (67%) most likely to have an executive chef on staff, and long-term care (15%) and schools (4%) least likely. Overall, 22% of operators have sous chefs, 11% have a culinary director, and 6% have a chef de cuisine and/or pastry chef.

When it comes to training, 80% of operators send staff to conferences and trade shows. Other training methods include in-house seminars and workshops (66%), off-site training at schools or institutes (31%), bringing culinary professionals to the institution or company (25%) and on-line training (25%).

Cooking methods
Overall, 92% of operators surveyed use scratch cooking, with virtually all college operators employing scratch preparation. School districts are least likely to use scratch cooking, with only 81% saying they cook from scratch. Almost 65% of operators use some prepared ingredients or meal components, and 60% use prepared entrées. Slightly more than 31% of all operators use cook-chill preparation for some items.

Display cooking is growing in popularity, with 48% of operators using display cooking in their facilities. The use of exhibition or demo cooking has grown in the last year by double digits in every market segment. For example, 76% of B&I operators do display cooking, compared with 63% last year. The other markets include universities at 95% (65% last year), hospitals at 39% (21% last year), nursing homes at 27% (9%) and schools at 12% (4%). Of those operators who offer display cooking, 51% do it daily, while one quarter of operators offer it once a week. And 49% of operators say they expect the frequency of exhibition cooking to increase in the year to come, because it’s good business: 75% of operators say customer counts increase whenever they offer display cooking.

The take-away factor
There is an increased demand from customers for take-away foods. On average, 20% of food purchased in noncommercial cafeterias and retail operations is consumed away from the point of purchase, versus 15% last year. By market sector, portable foods account for 30% of hospital business, 29% of B&I business, 17% of college business, 12% of long-term care business and 10% of school business. And 25% of operators believe take-out will increase in the coming year; the expectations are highest in universities (41%) and hospitals (39%).

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The USDA analyzed the efficacy of using Medicaid data to certify students for free or reduced-price lunch, a provision included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Participating states and districts reported conflicting data on changes in the percentage of students certified, number of meals served, federal reimbursements and certification costs.

The method is used as an alternative to household applications and data matching with other public benefit programs to streamline the certification of more low-income students. The program was first piloted statewide in Kentucky...

Ideas and Innovation
kids students cafeteria line

While summer feeding programs are commonplace in school districts across the country, foodservice operators still struggle to get the word out and kids in.

Many districts are scaling back or discontinuing their summer feeding programs due to low participation, citing staffing costs and other issues that make it difficult to break even and provide a profitable program.

“We need to find a way to encourage that participation,” Tom Freitas—foodservice director for Traverse City Area Public Schools in Traverse City, Mich.—told Record Eagle News . “We are open to ideas as long as...

Industry News & Opinion

Students and union representatives are petitioning Eastern Michigan University’s plan to outsource its foodservice operations, calling for the school to delay such a move to allow for further discussion with stakeholders, MLive reports .

EMU last week announced a tentative agreement to hand over its residential, catering and retail foodservices to Chartwells, a deal the university’s interim president avered would enable the school to expand and upgrade its eateries while maintaining high food quality, MLive says.

Opponents of the plan say they are concerned about what they...

Sponsored Content
whole grain pasta foodservice menu

From Barilla.

With younger consumers eager to explore new flavors and better-for-you options, whole-grain pasta is winning greater acceptance in American diets.

As more and more college and university students seek out whole grains in their meals, dishes featuring whole grains are on-deck to become menu mainstays.

At the University of Iowa, whole-grain foods have won general acceptance, says Barry Greenberg, executive chef for university dining. Two marketplace dining facilities on campus offer whole-grain pasta as a regular option and incorporate it into baked...

FSD Resources