6 ways to cater to new health and wellness trends

health wellness foodservice campus

From WhiteWave Away From Home.

College students today are much more interested and aware of health and wellness trends than those of previous generations.

They’re on-the-go and snack frequently, but they’re increasingly looking for “better-for-you” options with recognizable ingredients.

Some 38% of students say they eat several snacks each day between meals, according to Technomic’s recent College & University Consumer Trend Report.

When it comes to what they’re eating, labels matter.

Eighty-two percent of students would be more likely to buy food labeled “fresh,” 69% would be more likely to purchase food called out as “natural,” and 62% would be more likely to buy items labeled “locally sourced” and/or “organic,” the report found.

Plus, 42% of students on meal plans say protein content is an important factor when choosing a snack, the report found.

So, how can savvy foodservice operations cater to the growing health demands of students?

Form an advisory board

Assemble a diverse group of students who are passionate about foodservice to be your sounding board. They’ll help suggest new menu items and will relay information about health and wellness initiatives to the wider student population.

Offer a wide range of foods

Today’s on-the-go students want to take advantage of blurred dayparts and expect a wide range of foods offered at all hours. Offer “better-for-you” options on late-night menus as well as for grab-and-go snacking throughout the day. Popular choices include yogurt parfaits, cheese sticks and high-protein snack boxes with nuts, peanut butter, hummus or cheese.

Cater to specialized diets

Gluten-free and vegetarian claims have risen 21% and 13% respectively since 2013, according to Technomic’s College & University Consumer Trend Report. Growing numbers of universities are rolling out specialized concepts to focus on special-diets such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher and halal.

Focus on transparency

If you’re going to go to the effort of sourcing organic or “better-for-you” items, make sure your consumers know about it. Be transparent in dining-hall signage. Share sourcing information via social media. Ensure that foodservice employees are trained and well-versed in ingredients and can answer student questions. Highlight exhibition-style cooking so health-focused diners can see exactly what’s in their meals.

Play up customization

Millennials are all about do-it-yourself dining. Find creative ways for them to customize their own dishes by choosing proteins, grains, toppings and more.

Go global

Millennials are especially receptive to trying new flavors. And globally inspired dishes are a great way to cater to diverse diets. Create stations to feature on-trend ethnic dishes that range from indulgent to better-for-you.

WhiteWave Foods can help your operation meet consumers’ health and wellness needs with a full line of organic dairy milks, non-dairy beverages, cheeses and yogurts. For more information, contact WhiteWave at 1-888-620-9910.

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