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Keeping Up with College Eating

Keeping Up with College Eating

On college campuses, food and dining options are used as a major selling points.  In fact, many schools place their students’ satisfaction with the food as a higher priority than profits, with 80% stating that they dining as a means of recruitment for students1.  With the majority of college students opting into a meal plan (68%)2, universities must keep menus fresh, exciting, and affordable.  Today, on-campus dining stretches far beyond the doors of the cafeteria with colleges featuring c-stores, coffee houses, restaurant concepts, and many other unique on-campus dining offerings.


The Gen-Z Eater

With each passing semester, Gen-Z is becoming an increasingly large segment of the student population (about 83% of total students are millennials1).  With this shift, C&U operators are re-evaluating their menus.  Millennials consider themselves to be “foodies”, placing emphasis on healthy yet favorable options3. Gen-Z is the most ethnically diverse US generation ever.  Because of this, they expect to have food options that are both on-demand and from a variety of cultures.  In fact, 43% of students say that they would like their school to offer more ethnic foods.4  

While there is certainly still a place for more traditional dishes, students are also increasingly seeking to incorporate less meat into their diets, with 85% of students stating that they are more likely to order plant forward meal options5.  As a result, having healthy green options on  campus has never been more important.  Brands like BOCA make it easy to incorporate vegetarian and vegan friendly foods in place of traditional meat dishes while still providing consistent quality and taste.  In addition, Kraft Heinz offers an unparalleled collection of industry-leading condiment brands that, when combined with a trending plant base ingredient, create a unique dressing or sauce like Vegan Avocado Aioli featuring Heinz Vegan Mayonnaise.


Building a Successful College Dining Experience

Students today expect more from their schools than the traditional cafeteria.  Universities have evolved to incorporate unique on-campus restaurants, coffee shops, and grab-n-go micro markets.  To cater to their increasingly on the go lifestyles, colleges must offer a multitude of different eating occasions ranging from traditional seat-and-eat establishments to kiosks where students can grab a quick snack on their way to class.

On-campus restaurants allow for more specialized menu offerings while also providing students with a pleasant alternative to the cafeteria.  Typically, students’ meal plans allow them a specified allotment of dining dollars to eat at these establishments separate from their cafeteria meals. Most restaurants cater to a certain cuisine type like soup and sandwich, or ethnic cuisine.

One of the fastest growing trends on campus is the incorporation of micro markets and snack kiosks.  Gen-Z snacks four times a day6 on average, an increase of 53x over previous generations!7  The college lifestyle really lends itself to these snacking habits.  While sugary drinks and candy bars have their place as craving satisfiers, they only provide short bursts of energy, and often leave students feeling groggy.  Conversely, offering healthy snacks that provide a good source of long-burning energy is important for fueling successful students.  Products like Oscar Mayer P3, Planters Nutrition, and Kraft Trios give students this fuel in a convenient on-the-go pack that they can easily throw in their backpacks and break out on their way to practice.


Getting Students Integrated into Campus Dining

As we approach the beginning of the new school year, familiarizing students with the university’s dining facilities can go leagues in making them feel at home on campus.  One great way of achieving this is hosting a back to school barbeque within the first two weeks of their arrival.  Offering traditional barbecue foods like burgers and dogs as well as plant-forward builds can create a fun environment for students to eat and get to know each other.  Pair this with some lawn games and live entertainment like a band and you are sure to have an event that students will remember.

Kraft Heinz offers a robust portfolio of hot dogs, veggie burgers, and must-have condiments and sauces that will ensure your back-to-school event is second to none!



Focus products:

  1. Boca Veggie Burgers

  2. Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs

  3. Heinz Keystone Dispensers

  4. Planters P3

  5. Oscar Mayer Natural Plates

  6. Planters Nutrition Clusters





1NCES, Projections of Education Stats to 2018
2Datassential, C&U Pulse 2016
3Datassential, Millennial Mindset, 2018
4Foodservice Director, 5 Trends Rising on College Campuses, 2017
6Forbes, What Brands Need To Know About Modern Millennial Snack Culture, 2017
7Food Business News, Why food manufacturers should be targeting Gen Z, 2018