Staying healthy is a priority for students today. More than half (51%) say it’s important to eat healthy and pay attention to nutrition. As a result, students would like to see higher quality, healthier items on campus menus, which aligns with the overall industry trend toward higher-quality food. Younger consumers are also defining healthy as ‘free from’ certain ingredients – meaning free from preservatives, additives, artificial sweeteners, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.
Nutrition information and sourcing transparency are also important to college diners. They want the ability to make informed choices when selecting food and beverages. Healthier, fresher, customizable meals appeal more to women than men. While men are likely to be more focused on protein content of menu items. Overall women and older students are more focused on health. Yet, still a quarter of all students limit their diet in some way, an increase of 5% from 2017.
By the numbers
- 51% say it’s important to eat healthy and pay attention to nutrition
- 48% say, my school makes nutritional information easily accessible
- 45% say, my school is transparent about how ingredients are sourced
Opportunities for campus dining
- Dining halls need to overcome the impression of supplying lower quality foods to feed the masses. If meal plan users don’t feel on-campus options are up to their quality standards, they may start looking off campus. (Try high-quality grab n’ go snacks with hard-boiled eggs, for example.)
- Offering higher quality and healthier food and beverages, will enable campus dining facilities to better compete with off campus food outlets. Since quality and healthfulness are key drivers for students, schools offering these healthier options can entice students to regularly eat on campus.
- Labeling food and beverage products with protein content and ‘free from’ ingredients, gives diners a feeling of control over what they’re eating and lets them select foods that fit their dietary preferences and needs.