Organic food has gone mainstream in recent years. And consumers of all ages believe organic food is not just healthier—but tastier—than conventional counterparts, according to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report.
No demographic group, however, values organic offerings as highly as those aged 18 to 34.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of millennials, compared to 44% overall, say they’re more likely to purchase and willing to pay at least slightly more for menu items with organic claims, according to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report.
Plus, some 53% of younger consumers, compared to just 35% of older ones, believe organic food tastes better, according to Technomic data.
Thus, “organic” is one of the fastest-growing health-related claims on fast-casual and midscale chain menus. And growing numbers of colleges and universities are offering organic options at dining halls and retail locations.
Currently, 8% of food purchases on campus are organic products, up from 6% in 2015, according to Foodservice Director’s recent College and University Census.
Schools around the country are modeling several sales-boosting ways to increase both organic offerings and student awareness of them.
Grow your own
Some colleges and universities are opting to grow their own organic produce and raise their own organic dairy and meat products, educating students about farming in the process. Butte College near Chico, Calif., features an 80-acre farm with an organic fruit orchard and vineyard as well as the first organic dairy operation west of the Mississippi River. Michigan State University is home to a 15-acre organic-certified farm. The school also offers an Organic Farmer Training Program.
Some schools, such as Cornell University, enhance their sustainability efforts with on-campus farmer’s markets.
Build on familiar dishes
Offering organic ingredients in already popular items is another way to build awareness. At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, for example, the school features pizza with an organic crust and gourmet toppings. Coupling organic foods with exhibition-style cooking adds another layer of transparency.
Focus on menu call-outs and merchandising
At retail foodservice locations, ensuring that ready-to-eat and grab-and-go products are organic are clearly labeled and promoted as such can help raise awareness of organic offerings.
And it’s no secret that millennials are big snackers. Offering a wide variety of smaller-sized, well-labeled portable snack offerings such as yogurt parfaits or individual milk cartons at all retail foodservice locations can help capitalize on their eating habits.
Pay particular attention to labeling and product displays at on-campus markets. Since this generation places such high value on organic callouts, colleges and universities may benefit from aggressive, transparent labeling. The award-winning Market at Global Village at the Rochester Institute of Technology markets itself on campus as a one-stop shop for organic, sustainable and local foods (as well as gifts and household goods).
Another way to promote transparent food labeling is through social media. At the University of California in Santa Barbara, the school recently beefed up its Residential Dining Services’ social media presence to further highlight sustainability efforts. The social media expansion was coupled with an educational outreach program in which well-versed foodservice employees regularly answer student questions about ingredients and menu items.
DanoneWave Away from Home offers a wide range of snacking options, including calcium-packed Horizon® Organic cheeses that are good sources of protein and perfect for grab-and-go snacks.
This post is sponsored by Danone Away From Home