FSD 2009 Potability Study: Portability still important

For a variety of reasons, customers still seek portable foods they can take away from the cafeteria, and most operators happily oblige.

For many operators, selling grab-and-go or portable foods not only provides a convenience for time-strapped or busy customers, it also saves labor in a way that boosts profitability. Overall, 63% of survey respondents said take-away business offers a strong profit margin, with the highest percentage of college operators (75%) agreeing. The only market sector in which most respondents felt portable foods were not labor-saving was B&I, where 69% said it was not.

Among the other markets, 67% of school, 61% of hospital and 59% of long-term care operators believe portable foods are labor-saving and profitable.

When it comes to business builders, the push toward environmentally friendly packaging may be having an impact on take-away items. Among the 76% of operators who said they are taking specific steps to increase the sale of portable foods, 53% said they are using new types of packaging.

However, when it comes to types of packaging, only 30% said they use biodegradable containers, versus 28% last year. The highest percentage of users are in colleges, where 53% of operators said they use these types of containers. But the fastest growth is in nursing homes, where 35% of operators said they use biodegradbale containers, versus 10% last year.

One such operator is the Indiana Government Center, a complex of state government offices in Indianapolis. Bill Schaefer, regional director for Treat America Food Services, the IGC’s contractor, says a shift to biodegradable packaging was made easier with the sharp increase in the price of oil, which made the new containers, which are corn-based, comparable in cost to containers made with petroleum-based products.

Schaefer says the containers can only be used to hold cold items like salads and deli sandwiches.

In addition to using new types of packaging to try to increase grab-and-go business, other time-tested marketing tools are merchandising displays (45%), dedicated stations for grab-and-go (44%) and promotions (22%).

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
green smoothie

From DanoneWave Away From Home.

Not so long ago, finding non-dairy milk in a supermarket dairy case was a challenge. But these days, that aisle is bursting with plant-based beverage choices—cow’s milk alternatives crafted from soybeans, nuts, grains or coconut, as consumer demand for these beverages has grown exponentially. According to Euromonitor, worldwide sales of non-dairy milk alternatives more than doubled between 2009 and 2015.

Millennials and Gen Zers, many of them already accustomed to drinking dairy alternatives at home, expect to see some of those same choices...

Industry News & Opinion

George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is adding an additional $200 in dining dollars to each student's dining plan this fall, The GW Hatchet reports.

The boost comes just a year after the university switched to an open-format dining plan that allows students to spend their entire meal fund off campus; allowed venues include about 90 grocery stores and restaurants.

While students support the new plan, they are concerned about dining affordability. In conjunction with discounted meal deals that were implemented last semester, school officials hope the extra $200...

Ideas and Innovation
breakfast restaurant food

This March, past FSD of the Month Randy Lait and his team gave the FoodService Director staff a tour of the operations at North Carolina State University. During our visit, Randy shared how data is affecting their menu creation and menu mix. At the university, they’re encouraging chefs to use big data—and not just gut feelings—to inform menu decisions.

Every foodservice operator wants to offer more contemporary items in order to please their customer base and keep chefs challenged and engaged. Many chefs make those decisions based on their own tastes, or what’s exciting them at the...

Ideas and Innovation
french press

While a French press isn’t a tool found in most noncommercial kitchens, operators might want to think twice about multiple uses for this fancy coffee maker. Staff at the Hard Rock Cafe are using the French press to muddle fruit and alcohol for their mixed drinks, while at Chicago bar Moneygun, bartenders use a French press to blend spices and tea for hot toddys.

FSD Resources