When it comes to the choices of today’s college diners, they “want it all,” says Nadia Jackson, Sodexo’s director of retail for North America, noting that clean ingredients, authenticity, transparency and convenience all play a role.
Read on for five trends Sodexo says are influencing what college students select as snacks.
All-day eating continues
A trend for several years now, all-day snacking continues to gain steam. Eighty-one percent of Gen Zers surveyed say they seek convenient and healthy foods that they can consume at any time, Sodexo says. In addition, the definition of a snack has expanded beyond chips and other traditional between-meal items. “Anything can be a snack,” Jackson says.
Snacks with a conscience
Sixty-seven percent of younger consumers agree that they would spend more for snacks with ethical origins, Sodexo says. This includes considerations such as how the products were sourced and treatment of the workers at the companies that make them.
Classic snack items like cookies are getting the plant-based treatment, Sodexo says, with the growing prevalence of flours made from peas, hempseed and even watermelon seeds. “In general, in snacking, jerky is something that is growing, and now, it’s plant-based jerky,” Jackson says. “I feel like everyone is trying do something dairy-free, plant-forward.”
As demand for international flavors grows, sheets of roasted seaweed and baked cheese balls are just two of the globally inspired foods that Sodexo says are trending.
Sustainability stands out
Compostable and recyclable packaging are helping to boost appeal among students who want the convenience of to-go items but also seek to reduce their impact on the environment. “The market is definitely responding to that particular sustainability sensibility, so to speak, by making sure that they are offering alternative options or packaging so that [consumers] can have it both [ways],” Jackson says.