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More College Students Eating From On-Campus Foodservice

CHICAGO—Students are increasingly eating on college campuses with 69% of students purchasing food and beverages from on-campus foodservice facilities once a week or more, according to a College & University Consumer Trend Report by Technomic.

This data represents a near-return to 2009 on-campus patronage level, at 71%, following a decline to just 62% of students surveyed in 2011. To keep this trend going, campus dining operators need to continually focus on improvements to menu variety, prices and atmosphere at on-campus dining venues, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, Inc. Menu variety, in particular, is key to keeping student patronage. "Our year-over-year data indicates there's more demand for college and university foodservice menus that feature unique items, ethnic offerings and customization opportunities," explained Tristano.

Key findings from the report show that only 35% of students say they're overall satisfied with their school's dinning program. Further, 44% of students surveyed and over half, 57%, of on-campus students wish their school had grocery stores where they could shop using their meal plan. Results show half of the students placed high importance on the ability to substitute, 53%, or add, 50%, ingredients themselves. While 66% of students cited regularly exploring new types of foods and flavors—up from 59% of student in 2011.

Additionally, the report revealed that the most important menu attributes at on- and off-campus locations were taste (70%), variety of options (53%), use of fresh ingredients (50%), healthy options (41%) and ability to customize (30%). When it came to the top non-alcoholic beverages at 50 leading universities, students ranked specialty coffee as No. 1 followed by milk/chocolate milk, juice, coffee/filter coffee and lastly, soft drinks/fountain drinks. Insight into college students' eating habits and attitudes can have long-term implications within the food industry as future trends are often developed by college Millennials, for more information visit the Image Gallery: Gen Y Sets Future Food Trends.

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