Report Outlines Opportunities For College Foodservice

Aug. 19, 2011

With nearly 16 million college and university students in the U.S. commanding over $300 billion in spending power, college and university foodservice is establishing itself as a promising foodservice revenue channel.

Campus foodservice is an important component of the college experience, with 44 percent of college students polled by Technomic indicating that their school's dining program was at least somewhat important in deciding where to enroll. However, only 32 percent of students say their school does a good job of making sure students are pleased with the overall dining program.

Sara Monnette, director of Consumer Research at Technomic, points to significant opportunities for suppliers and operators to grow revenues by appealing to the campus crowd. "Despite the fact that 62 percent of students surveyed say they eat at on-campus dining facilities at least weekly, only 28 percent of students are satisfied with the healthy offerings at their school, and only 34 percent express overall satisfaction with their school's dining facilities. Operators on and off campus could attract more students and increase the frequency of visits by refining their menus based on students' desires."

Monnette also points out that trends taking shape on campuses could become part of the broader foodservice market as graduating students enter the workforce and gain additional spending power.

To help food industry professionals understand the preferences, dining patterns, and patronage of college and university students, Technomic recently released the College and University Consumer Trend Report.

Findings include:

  • Customization is an increasingly critical issue for college diners: nearly half of students polled (47 percent) compared to just 43 percent of those polled in 2009 said it is important that they can omit or substitute ingredients in their food.
  • 21 percent of students limit their consumption of meat by sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet, eating only certain types of meat, or eating meat only occasionally.
  • 48 percent of students strongly agree that they would like more on-campus dining facilities to stay open later at night.

Technomic's College and University Consumer Trend Report helps operators and suppliers identify key trends, growth opportunities, and marketing strategies within the college and university foodservice channel. It includes consumer insights from a representative sample of 1,500 American students, as well as menu, concept, and marketing trends relating to foodservice at colleges and universities. Detailed appendices include profiles of leading and innovative college dining programs, along with profiles of the top privately-branded foodservice concepts at colleges.