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Off-Campus Demands Shaping College Foodservice

CHICAGO — College students rely heavily on foodservice outlets both on- and off-campus, and are also more likely than the overall population to start their day later, snack between meals, try out unique cuisines and prioritize environmental and social responsibility, according to Technomic Inc.'s College & University Consumer Trend Report.

Because of this, on-campus foodservice faces increasing pressure from restaurants and retailers that offer inexpensive, fast fare that is also healthy and high-quality.

"On-campus operators must match the innovations of their off-campus counterparts," stated Sara Monnette, vice president at Technomic. "Creating their own unique concepts, offering a wider range of convenient and portable options, incorporating technology and extending serving hours can help drive sales and keep foodservice dollars on campus."

A number of factors drive students' foodservice decisions, including price, convenience, diet restrictions and menu transparency. Key findings of the report include:

  • 74 percent of students visit on-campus foodservice locations weekly, which is just slightly more than the 67 percent who visit off-campus restaurants once a week or more.
  • The main reasons cited for purchasing food or beverage on campus include convenience (62 percent), the desire to stay on campus (47 percent) and quicker service (34 percent).
  • 46 percent of students say it is important that the foodservice locations they visit are socially and environmentally responsible, up from the 37 percent who said the same in 2013.
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