2011 Portability Study: More operators than ever offer grab-and-go

Twenty-two percent of foodservice revenue comes from grab-and-go items.

According to FoodService Director's 2011 Portability Study, more operators are offering portable meal items than in previous years. In addition, an average of 22% of all foodservice revenue comes from these grab-and-go items.

2011 Grab-and-go Study: What operators sell

  • A total of 79% of respondents said they offer portable menu items, compared with 73% last year. All B&I operators offer grab-and-go items, with college/university and hospitals close behind, with 95% and 92%, respectively, offering portable foods. Sixty-nine percent of school operators said they offer grab and go, while only 48% of respondents in long-term care/senior living provide portable menu items.
  • Among those operators who offer to-go items, an average of 22% of all foodservice revenue comes from these items. C&U operators said that one-quarter of their revenue comes from portable foods, followed by hospitals (23%), long-term care/senior living (22%), schools (19%) and B&I (18%).
  • In the coming year, 51% of respondents say they expect revenue to increase and 44% say it will remain the same. For those operators expecting sales to grow, the average predicted rate of growth was 12%. Most respondents stated at least two reasons for the expected growth: Customers have less time to spend in the dining area (67%) and more customers are asking for these products (58%). For 36% of operators, an increase in customers will help build revenue, and 18% said that higher profits on prepackaged items will help build sales. For 16%, a decline in available seating will cause grab-and-go sales to rise. For those few operators (6%) who said they expect a decrease in grab-and-go sales, 36% said their customer base is shrinking, while 27% cited lower demand and/or a change in the way the operation is preparing and serving food.
  • Operators are trying several methods to boost sales, according to our survey. The most popular tactic is testing new kinds of packaging that makes it easier for customers to transport portable foods. For 40% of operators, setting up dedicated stations that call attention to grab-and-go service is being tried, while 36% are considering new or improved merchandising and 25% are marketing grab and go through various promotions.
  • When it comes to packaging, a variety of options are popular. The most common types of packaging are simple plastic containers or wraps, used by 54% of operators, and clear-lidded salad bowls, employed by 52%. For 46%, plastic clamshells are popular, followed by foam containers (45%), paper containers (35%), entrée containers with clear lids that are not clamshells (34%)  and biodegradable containers (30%). Only 6% said they use aluminum containers, and 2% said they offer packages with temperature indicators.
  • The majority of operators in all segments except B&I said that portable meal services saves labor in a way that boosts profitability. Only 33% of B&I operators stated that grab and go is a labor-saving deal.

2011 Grab-and-go Survey: Packaging

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
business ladder climbing illustration

Recruiting talent is only half the battle for Mike Folino, associate director of nutrition services at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. Once he’s attracted good employees, providing clear opportunities for advancement can help retain them—but knowing when to bring up the topic in conversation can be tricky.

Prior to hiring

Folino likes to touch on advancement during the initial interview process, but the extent to which he does so changes case by case. “I have had interviews where we knew right away that we needed to discuss our structure and...

Ideas and Innovation
woman surprise

When I joined the staff at FoodService Director in the spring of 2015, I couldn’t believe how much there was to learn about the intricacies of the industry. My past experience, from kindergarten to my college days to on-the-job meals, would lead me to believe that noncommercial dining was a kind of automated process—an amenity that’s expected, and one you only become aware of if something goes wrong.

But as with my own household chores, there are no magical elves making sure the business of feeding students, seniors and hospital patients is done, and done well. Foodservice...

Managing Your Business
hands team

In November, students at University of Missouri in Columbia began leading protests against discrimination faced by people of color on campus—including some marches through the dining halls. Julaine Kiehn, director of the school’s campus dining services, said the 2015-16 school year was a tough one, but she was proud of MU’s students for being at the forefront of a national movement.

And not only did the protests launch important conversations with students, but also with staff. Kiehn heard the protests and thought that her student workers, at least, might not feel safe and welcome...

Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to sustainability, sometimes the smallest kitchen changes can make the biggest difference. When Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, switched from standard latex gloves to nitrile gloves, he also set up a recycling program. Once recycled, the gloves are turned into playground equipment, bike racks and park benches.

Henning says the nitrile gloves have been a good fit for his department, both in terms of durability and cost. “Participating in the campus buying program reduces the cost, as [our]...

FSD Resources