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Comfort food hits big with C&U students

Operators drive sales with innovative takes on comfort classics
Photograph: Shutterstock

As global condiments and cuisines from all around the world proliferate on restaurants menus, offering classic dishes, like fried chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese might seem irrelevant—or at least a lower priority. However, Technomic’s recent Flavor report finds that although most diners say they like trying new flavors from time to time, one in five say they prefer sticking to their favorites and rarely try new ones. And Technomic’s 2019 College & University Consumer Trend Report finds that one of the most important attributes of on- and off-campus food purchases is that there are familiar options available—29% of students say so.

For these diners, as well as diners who want to try something new, dishes such as White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese are perfect. On one hand, Stouffer’s® White Cheddar Mac and Cheese offers a familiar flavor that diners love, but on the other hand, because it’s made with fun cavatappi noodles and rich, sharp white cheddar cheese, it’s different enough to appeal to those who want to try something new.

Familiar flavors a big hit at schools

Familiar flavors are especially popular among younger consumers—40% of diners 18- to 34-years old say they are ordering foods that feature traditional flavors more than they were a year ago, according to Technomic’s Flavor report. And, 42% of students say that they would like their schools to offer more regional American foods, according to Technomic’s College & University report.

Serving options that are great on their own or with toppings gives students the chance to try out new things—or stick to their favorites. Stouffer’s® White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese features nine month-aged white cheddar cheese and is perfect as an entree or a side dish. And, it’s perfect for adding toppings to, so students can customize their meals. For diners who want something familiar, options such as broccoli and bacon are perfect, and for those who want to try something new, poblano pepper and chorizo can be a delicious combo. Technomic’s Flavor report finds that 42% of consumers say they expect restaurants and foodservice locations to offer signature flavors. White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese offers a perfect balance of new and familiar—and with white cheddar instead of traditional cheddar cheese, cafeterias and other on- or off-campus eateries can offer it as a signature dish, increasing its appeal.

Use homestyle flavors to increase appeal

When diners sit down to a great meal like macaroni and cheese, they probably think of noodles, fresh cheese and other great ingredients. In fact, Technomic’s Flavor report finds that 59% of consumers believe the flavor of a dish is enhanced if it has no artificial flavors. Stouffer’s® White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese is made with no artificial flavors or colors and has no preservatives.

Its unique cheese sauce is a familiar, homemade-style dish that caters to diners’ desire for indulgent and nostalgic dishes. And because it’s less common to find than macaroni and cheese with traditional cheddar, foodservice operators can promote it as a signature item, which can increase diners’ likelihood to order or purchase it. After all, 43% of diners say they are tempted to order an item if it comes with a sauce or ingredient they can only get at a particular restaurant or foodservice location.

White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese offers a familiar flavor that’s appealing to those who want comfort food, as well as to those who want comfort food with a twist—and at colleges and universities, there’s plenty of both types of diners.

By menuing foods that feature familiar flavors and ingredients, operators have the opportunity to appeal to students who want comfort foods they know and love. With comfort foods such as White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese and more on the menu, students can get excited knowing that a taste of home will be available virtually anytime they want it.

This post is sponsored by Stouffer’s®

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