Away at college for the first time, many college students indulge in late-night pizza and other treats—particularly around exam times. But increasingly, students are looking for healthier options—54% of students say that it’s important to eat healthy and pay attention to nutrition, according to Technomic’s 2017 College & University Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite.
To increase traffic throughout the day, offering better-for-you snack and beverage options is key.
Following the trends
College students are known for being busy and eating on the run, but what they’re eating and drinking is changing. For example, the Technomic College & University report finds that 40% say that when they choose a snack, the overall nutritional value of the snack is important or extremely important. So instead of grabbing a soda, they might look to a plant-based beverage, such as almondmilk, which will not only satiate their hunger, but provide healthful nutrients. Instead of a candy bar, they might pick up a bag of trail mix or a organic cheese snack.
As the trend skews toward more mindful choices for meals and snacks, foodservice directors and retailers should focus on grab-and-go options and make moves to ensure students can find what they’re looking for, including non-GMO, plant-based and clean-label options.
And because of the growing popularity of better-for-you options, more operators are making the move to sell them both as part of meal plans and in retail settings. According to Nielsen, plant based beverages are a $1.38B category and growing. What’s more, 55% of Americans say they plan to eat more plant-based foods going forward, so it’s safe to assume that this upward trend will continue.
Grab-and-go items that fall under the better-for-you umbrella (for instance: items that are low-sugar, low-fat, low-calorie, low-carbohydrate or free of high fructose corn syrup) provide the opportunity for students to purchase a healthy item at a reasonable price to take with them wherever they may be going. It’s an ideal solution for people who are on the go, and these items should include both food and drinks—in Technomic’s 2016 Snacking Consumer Trend Report, consumers 18-34 years old say that 30% of their snacking occasions include food and beverages, while 15% of their snacking occasions are only beverages.
Additionally, according to Technomic’s College & University report, one-fifth of students say they are willing to pay more for plant-based foods and drinks, so these grab-and-go items can even be sold at a premium.
Healthier choices can mean more all-day traffic
According to Nielsen, 60% of millennials are choosing plant-based food and drinks, and with students increasingly interested in healthier choices both at meals and between meals, the natural next step is to give students what they want. Most snacking happens in the afternoon, with 79% of consumers saying that’s when they have a snack—but snacking is popular all day, with 27% saying they have a snack in the morning, 48% snacking in the evening and 29% late at night, according to the Technomic Snacking report.
Increase traffic during all dayparts by offering up items such as dried fruit snacks, almondmilk, trail mix, organic cheese snacks, mixed nuts, no-sugar-added juices, meat snacks and veggies with hummus.
These are all options that are great for taking on the go and are easy to add to foodservice locations. The opportunity to profit on college students’ desire for food and drinks that are free of artificial sweeteners and other ingredients is big—don’t miss out.
This post is sponsored by DanoneWave Away From Home