Today’s Gen Z college students, those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, want it all when it comes to their food – quick, fresh, healthy, local and sustainable. Aramark (ARMK), the award-winning-food and facilities partner, serving more than 3 million higher education students on more than 500 college and university campuses each year, is rising to the challenge and introducing new sustainability commitments, healthier menu items and innovative programs, to fit Gen Zers’ desires.
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“Students’ demand for quality, health, convenience and personalization drives every stage of our menu innovation process,” said Jeff Gilliam, president of Aramark’s Higher Education business. “Our team layers consumer insights and proprietary data with trends from industry experts and market research partners to identify, create and introduce innovation to each menu we develop for college campuses.”
Enhancing Sustainability Efforts
Aramark’s mission of enriching and nourishing lives goes beyond the food being served. With more than 8 million tons of plastics leaked into the world’s oceans each year, and 80% of Aramark consumers trying to reduce personal consumption of plastic1, the company is significantly reducing single-use disposable plastics across its global food service operations by 2022, including a nearly 100% reduction of plastic straws and stirrers on its Higher Education campuses, starting September 2018. Smaller quantities of plastic straws will be available upon request, for those that need them, and for retail customers in some locations.
As a way to meet students’ growing demand for local and sustainable food, Aramark partnered with FarmLogix to launch Open Fields, a software platform that allows the company to easily source and report on sustainable ingredients and purchases. Aramark is using the tool to track sustainable attributes such as: Seafood Watch® Best Choice or Good Alternative, Fair Trade USATM certified, USDA Organic and more. Open Fields increases Aramark’s access to fresh, high quality, local produce and sustainably sourced products that also support the thousands of local communities the company serves.
Growing Plant-Forward Menu Options
Aramark’s proprietary plant-forward research suggests that consumers, primarily motived by health, are shifting their eating habits toward more plant-forward foods, with 60% wanting to reduce their meat intake2. Nearly three out of four (65%) Gen Zers, specifically, find plant-forward eating appealing and 79% would go meatless, 1-2 times a week now or in the future3.
As part of its Healthy for Life 20 By 20 commitment with the American Heart Association (AHA), Aramark’s chefs are finding creative ways to include more fruits and vegetables into menus; Thirty percent of the main dishes Aramark serves in Higher Education locations are vegan or vegetarian. This year, more than 150 Aramark chefs from college campuses across the United States and Canada participated in plant-based culinary trainings with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to bring even more innovative recipes, that center on foods including vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts to their campus menus.
Some of the new plant-forward options debuting this fall Include:
- Sweet Potato Smash- Sweet potato, goat cheese, cranberry sauce and arugula on whole grain ciabatta.
- Spanakopita Quesadilla- Crispy tortilla filled with spinach and feta cheese spread and served with Tzatziki sauce.
- Roasted Butternut Tartine- Open-faced sandwich with roasted butternut squash, arugula, ricotta cheese and a Dijon maple drizzle.
- All American Beyond Burger®- The revolutionary plant-based patty that looks, cooks and satisfies like beef, will be added to the menu at Burger Studio & Grille Works locations for a limited time.
Making Personalization More Popular
Aramark is introducing an enhanced Campus Dish web and mobile experience on the campuses it serves, to meet the demand for quick, easy and great tasting options. The new interactive design will let students, faculty and staff:
- See what dining locations are open now or nearby
- Personalize their experience by tagging their favorite locations
- Review menus and filter by allergens, dietary restrictions or special preferences
- Identify the best meal plan to suit their lifestyle, using the Meal Plan match survey
- Easily purchase meal plans and declining balance with an enhanced eCommerce and checkout experience.
Aramark is also adding a new franchise partner to its robust list of national brands, with the introduction of New England-based Oath Pizza. The fast-casual pizza restaurant boasts a proprietary style of pizza crust that is hand-stretched, grilled, and seared in avocado oil, for a crispy crunch, that cooks in 90 seconds or less, and will appear on a dozen campuses this fall. Customers can choose from nearly 40 ethically sourced, seasonally inspired, and Certified Humane toppings, sauces and garnishes. As the only existing Certified Humane pizza restaurant in the country, all of Oath’s pizzas are made without hormones, artificial preservatives or antibiotics.
To learn more about how Aramark elevates the student experience with custom campus solutions, visit https://www.aramark.com/industries/education/colleges-universities.
Download Aramark’s back-to-school visual assets here.
Aramark (ARMK) proudly serves Fortune 500 companies, world champion sports teams, state-of-the-art healthcare providers, the world’s leading educational institutions, iconic destinations and cultural attractions, and numerous municipalities in 19 countries around the world. Our 270,000 team members deliver experiences that enrich and nourish millions of lives every day through innovative services in food, facilities management and uniforms. We operate our business with social responsibility, focusing on initiatives that support our diverse workforce, advance consumer health and wellness, protect our environment, and strengthen our communities. Aramark is recognized as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE, as well as an employer of choice by the Human Rights Campaign and DiversityInc. Learn more at http://www.aramark.com/ or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
1 Survey conducted June 2018 among Aramark consumers.
2 Aramark conducted a third party study, in February 2018, with a random sampling of 5,272 Americans, ages 18-60, which examined consumer attitudes toward plant-forward eating.
3 According to Aramark’s February 2018 plant-forward study.