Getting it to go: 2010 Portability Study

Six operators share how they are seeing growth in their take-away business.

Grab and Go: 25% and Growing

Among foodservice facilities that offer portable, grab-and-go food options, one quarter of the total foodservice revenue is generated by such items, according to the 2010 Portability Study conducted by FoodService Director.

Our study surveyed more than 300 operators in schools, colleges, hospitals, long-term and senior care facilities and business locations, and 73% said they currently offer grab-and-go service. The percentage is highest in B&I (95%) and colleges (88%), while college operators reported the highest average percentage of total revenue (32%).

Most operators surveyed (52%) added that they expect the volume of takeout business to grow in the coming year. Seventy-two percent of college operators and 66% of hospital directors expect to see an increase in their grab-and-go revenue.

Customers’ busy lifestyles was the reason most often cited by operators as the reason for the expected increase, with 54% of respondents indicating that “customers have less time to spend in the dining area.” “Stated customer demand” and “increase in customer base” each were noted by 45% of operators, while 17% said “less seating capacity” and 11% cited “higher profits on prepackaged items due to labor savings.”

Conversely, only 5% said they expect to see a drop in grab-and-go business, with a decline in customer base or a decrease in demand as the reasons most often cited.

A wide range of items are sold in the grab-in-go format, with salads from the salad bar being the most popular.

Most operators (59%) said that grab-and-go service “saves labor in a way that boosts profitability, with 77% of college operators and 68% of school foodservice directors agreeing with that statement. Interestingly, 61% of B&I operators disagreed, possibly seeing the takeout option more as a customer convenience than a labor-saving device.

Also, operators by and large agree that point-of-sale merchandising trumps marketing tools in building grab-and-go sales. Only 21% of operators—with 3% of schools and 15% of hospitals being the lowest—use such items as promotions, coupons and discounts to attract customers, with most believing that dedicated take-away stations and improved merchandising displays and packaging materials will drive traffic.

Finally, biodegradable containers continue to rank among the less likely packaging option for grab-and-go service, with only 32% of operators offering such containers. Biodegradability is most often embraced by college (57%) and B&I (42%) operators.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chicken dinner

For the last three years, we’ve hosted an event called Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner. We sponsor the local chapter of Future Farmers of America to raise the chickens, and we have to arrange all the transporting from farms to the distributor, which keeps the birds in a freezer until we’re ready. We build hype by having students vote on the proprietary spice blend they would like on the chicken. It helps the nutrition team get involved in the educational process and showcase local food purchasing.

Menu Development
ramen bowl spoon chopsticks

Asian noodle soups are a popular lunch option at YouTube’s San Bruno, Calif., campus, says Trent Page, the GM at Bon Appetit Management who runs the company’s three corporate dining venues. But Page noticed an increasing preference for customizable dishes and vegan preparations among the 1,000 customers he feeds daily. Inspired by a recent visit to Japan, he introduced tsukemen to the menu—a dish that features most of the traditional ramen ingredients (noodles, eggs and vegetable garnishes) served separately so diners can mix and match. “Separating the components makes it more customizable...

Ideas and Innovation
employees generation multicultural

We are no longer short staffed, ever. On a given day, missing two team members from a team of 50 would leave us 96% staffed. The actual choice of wording places a positive emphasis on those that did come to serve our guests and patients. We no longer use the phrase “short staffed”; this is a game-changer when we are challenging ourselves as culture facilitators or leaders.

Ideas and Innovation
food symbols allergens

To make safe food as accessible as possible for our guests with allergies, we are creating an allergen-friendly kitchen this summer. Students and community members will be able to use our mobile app to place orders for allergen-friendly food and pick them up at the central kitchen. The kitchen will also produce grab-and-go options that will be distributed across campus.

FSD Resources