Summer Scholars

If you saw the cover of this issue promoting our coverage of college and university foodservice innovators and thought the July edition of FE&S is not for you, think again. What's happening in college and university foodservice today will shape other foodservice industry segments for years to come.

The NPD Group, a New York-based market research firm, reports several key demographic shifts coming in the next five years will significantly affect the foodservice industry. The emergence of the Millennial generation (individuals 24 to 37 years old) and its affect on the foodservice industry has been well-documented. Following close behind and ready to be a disruptive foodservice force is Generation Z, consisting of people up to 23 years old. Together, these generations pack a pretty dynamic punch.

Specifically, these generational groups want more involvement, but not necessarily complexity in preparing their meals, NPD points out.

At the other end of the age spectrum, many members of the Baby Boom generation will begin transitioning into new stages of their lives. Some will become empty nesters, some may travel more and others may enter senior living, NPD points out. As a result, their dining choices will be less trend-oriented and more about maintaining their lifestyles.

What does this have to do with college and university foodservice and beyond? Well, everything.

As the students graduate and enter the workforce, they look to patronize those operators that serve them in the manner to which they have become accustomed in college. Operators from all segments and their supply chain partners often ponder the next trends that will shape their businesses. They would be wise to pay close attention to what makes so many college and university foodservice operators successful.

Looking at the leaders in the college and university foodservice segment, food sourcing and preparation has never been more transparent. The dining options have never been more accommodating. It used to be that college and university foodservice operators with a vegetarian cooking platform were the exception, now they are the operational norm. And it won't be long before the industry can say the same about allergen-free zones. In other words, these operators do an exemplary job celebrating food and using it to facilitate flexible and affordable social occasions.

As Ricca Newmark's Lenny Condenzio points out in this month's Consultant's Viewpoint article the administrations leading today's colleges and universities understand the social significance of breaking bread together.

These foodservice operations become dynamic living environments that shun the institutional approach of the past.

Developing such facilities requires design teams that work collaboratively with various other departments and disciplines to create customer-focused foodservice operations.

Want to know what the future has in store for foodservice? Start by touring a college campus.