CHICAGO — College and university foodservice is establishing itself as a promising foodservice revenue channel, according to new data from Technomic. According to Technomic’s recently introduced “College and University Consumer Trend Report,” there are approximately 16 million college and university students in the United States with more than $300 billion in spending power,

Forty-four percent of college students polled by Technomic indicated their school’s dining program was at least somewhat important in deciding where to enroll. However, only 32 percent of students say their school does a good job of making sure students are pleased with the overall dining program.

Significant opportunities exist for suppliers and operators to grow revenues by appealing to the campus crowd, said Sara Monnette, director of consumer research. “Despite the fact that 62 percent of students surveyed say they eat at on-campus dining facilities at least weekly, only 28 percent of students are satisfied with the healthy offerings at their school, and only 34 percent express overall satisfaction with their school’s dining facilities,” she added. “Operators on and off campus could attract more students and increase the frequency of visits by refining their menus based on students' desires.”

Trends taking shape on campuses could become part of the broader foodservice market as graduating students enter the workforce and gain additional spending power, she said.

Other study findings include:

  • Customization is an increasingly critical issue for college diners: approximately half of students polled (47 percent) compared to 43 percent of those polled in 2009 said it is important that they can omit or substitute ingredients in their food.
  • Twenty-one percent of students limit their consumption of meat by sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet, eating only certain types of meat, or eating meat only occasionally.
  • Forty-eight percent of students strongly agree that they would like more on-campus dining facilities to stay open later at night.