A year in the life of culinary provision

By Professor David Russell, written in partnership with Charlotte Harbour

Throughout 2017, we have explored global food trends, psychographic profiling, student mental health and optimal nutrition through food and beverage provision. Through our writing, we hope we have inspired, enthused and motivated others to drive change through “disruptive innovations” that will ultimately deliver optimal outcomes for our students and staff.  So, let’s take a look at a year in the life… 

Back in January, we commenced the new year by discussing how the dichotomy of optimum wellbeing and gourmet indulgence would be at the forefront of this year’s national and global food trends. Here in the UK, key food paradigms focused around intelligent health, sensorial experiences, bare necessities and craft expertise. Affordable, healthy and delicious fast-food had featured, and epitomised student requirements both emotionally and physiologically. We closed the month by exploring how the multi-sensory aspects of food and beverage were often overlooked when providing sustenance.

We emerged from winter discussing how it only takes seven seconds to formulate an initial idea, feeling, or opinion without conscious thought or on the basis of little evidence. We deduced that prospective students will be influenced by a multitude of factors during their decision-making process; the university reputation, the opinion of family and friends and the geographical proximity to home, and whilst these substantial influencers appear to dominate the perception of a university, often the smaller and seemingly insignificant aspects of the estate can be monumental in eliciting positive or negative emotional responses. As such, we reintroduced the practice of psychographic profiling, discussing the perception and intrinsic emotive evocation of environments can be studied and calibrated. We emphasised the opportunities embedded within the study of cognitive and psychographic responses evoked by the physical environment and the influence this has on feelings, behaviour and student recruitment.

David Russell

During spring, we spoke about developing technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, which present multiple, exciting opportunities for learning, development and student experience optimisation. We considered marketing, training and recruitment opportunities rooted within innovative technological advancements

In the summer, we proclaimed that ‘green food is clean food’ and emphasised how we can all nurture our utilisation of the green food concept to encompass both vitality and sustainability within University life. Our meaning of green food is one of ecological longevity and human vitality – one that is both symbiotic with our precious globe, and biologically advantageous to the consumer – and something we are passionately advocating at every opportunity.

Autumn found us preparing for the new semester by exploring ways to deliver a positive student experience – we reasoned that it is multi-faceted, and will be unique to each and every individual – but could be influenced through food provisions. We declared that we must embrace the variety of students that we invite to our institutions, and enable their diverse ideations of the ‘ideal’ student experience through readiness activities, such as online induction, and optimisation of physical and mental health through food and beverage solutions.

As we come full circle back to winter, we close our year by discussing digital trends that facilitate student productivity and wellbeing, and suggest software applications that may be of interest to our demographics for personal development purposes. 

So, as we move from food trends to digital trends, from environments to training programmes, and from student experience optimisation and food provision – we are witness to the vastness and variety of topics embedded within the university food and beverage sector. 

Perhaps a main takeaway is that holism, integration and seamlessness are key to individualising and optimising the student experience within our valuable universities. 

Warm wishes… 

For further info on the Russell Partnership visit www.russellpartnership.com



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