What’s in vogue in education

Health, wellness and global flavors were among some of the topics that filtered to the top of the latest trends report from Y-Pulse, a division of research and consulting firm Olson Communications. Assessing how the tastes of the under-22 crowd are shaping the menus of tomorrow, the study has examined foodservice trends in the K-12 and college/university education segments for the past 10 years. The report is based upon feedback from multiple foodservice directors and students across the studied segments. Key findings include:

  • The idea of hiding healthy ingredients is going by the wayside—full disclosure and allergen awareness are taking on greater importance.
  • Even when it comes to snacking, millennial consumers want fresh and healthy snacks—83% considered healthfulness an important quality for their snacks.
  • 82% of colleges and universities stated that their campus has a wellness policy or program in place. Of the other 18% that did not have a formal policy, 45% said a program was pending.
  • Successful wellness programs in colleges and universities take a holistic approach including health services, athletics, recreational sports, counseling and residential life, as well as foodservice.
  • 72% of foodservice directors said they would like a new item of cooking equipment—37% of those specifically identified a combi oven.
  • 95% of foodservice directors in colleges said they use social media to connect with customers; 85% said social media tools are very important or important for promoting their venues.
  • 42% of K-12 directors noted that they were seeing more lunches being brought to school; 37% noted that the lunches often contained less healthful choices and items no longer allowed to be served in school serving lines.
  • 58% of K-12 foodservice directors say that almost all of their students expect to see ethnic foods on the menu.
  • Latin, Mediterranean and Asian flavors have been the top three ethnic cuisines for many years, but foods from the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa are gaining interest, such as dates and za’atar.
  • When college students were asked about the factors that are most important when buying food and beverages, the top three were a simple ingredient statement, a company known for ethical practices and sustainability.
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