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

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

Industry News & Opinion

Panera Bread Co. announced today that it intends to buy the Au Bon Pain brand as a way of opening more bakery-cafes in colleges, healthcare facilities, office buildings, travel centers and malls.

Au Bon Pain, which was Panera’s sole business under an earlier incarnation of the company, consists of 304 bakery-cafes. Several units are located in noncommercial venues.

Panera owns or holds the franchise rights to about 2,050 restaurants, few of which are located outside of strip malls.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Immediately after the deal was...

FSD Resources