Unsurprisingly students are increasingly driven towards convenience- style food offers, due to their relatively low cost, ergonomic appeal (hand-held), variety, availability and food safety. This trend is not exclusive to students, and can be seen throughout the country as in the past year, the convenience market generated £37.7bn in sales – a year-on-year increase of 5.1%.
Offering nutritious, fresh and delicious food to our students has always been a priority. As the demand for convenience-style food increases, so does the opportunity for growth within the university catering sector. Student lifestyles are becoming increasingly fast-paced and as the demand for accessible, hand-held meal solutions is increasing. It is our responsibility to deliver an offer that is high quality, affordable and nutritionally viable.
‘Focusing on fast, healthy and relaxed offers will encourage students to return and will be beneficial to their overall wellbeing’
Appropriate convenience-style food offers may consist of salad pots, wholegrain sandwiches, fruit pots, salad bars etc. Focusing on fast, healthy and relaxed offers will encourage students to return and will be beneficial to their overall wellbeing. Innovation within the outlet is encouraged, offering ‘superfoods’ such as quinoa, kale, spirulina and acai will appeal to the student population, as global food trends continually show us that year after year, our students are moving towards a greener lifestyle.
This trend should also be used as an opportunity to adapt the environment where the food is offered. Students positively respond to vibrant, spacious areas that are fit for purpose, unique and utilise cutting-edge technology. Technology may be used to engage with shoppers, both in-store (display screen and digital shelf edge labels) and outside of the store via apps, which can provide store information and targeted promotions. Furthermore, placing healthy ‘grab and go’ offers, fruits and vegetables towards the front of the outlet is crucial in encouraging nutritious choices.
Opportunities for innovation and responsiveness are at the heart of delivering convenience-style food offers – so to truly understand your direction, you must first understand your students!