Collegiate Gen Y Eating: Culinary Trend Mapping Report

In 2008, Packaged Facts and the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) presented How Gen Y Eats, a report that profiled this much-discussed group as loving culinary mash-ups, craving big and layered flavors, and keeping an eye on nutrition and the health of the planet. These attributes haven’t changed and over time we’ve been able to see more clearly how they are playing out and strategically assess their future impact on the food industry.

In our latest report, Gen Y Collegiate Eating, we single out young adults in the pursuit of higher education because of the way recently independent college student are exposed to new foods—through friends, expanded local restaurant choices and especially through campus foodservice. This exposure leads to new habits that will remain long after graduation and become demands on and expectations about the food industry for decades to come. Campus foodservice divisions, some of the most innovative businesses in the foodservice landscape, are both creating and catering to these demands.

As part of our analysis of the impact college students are having on the foodservice industry, we examine seven significant trends that are shaping—and will continue to shape—the American culinary landscape.

  • Profile 1: Dining Along the Meatless Spectrum — More students align themselves along the less-meat to meatless spectrum from flexitarian to vegetarian to vegan and even raw diets.

  • Profile 2: The Mighty Chickpea — Inexpensive, versatile and packed with protein, the worldly chickpea fills student bellies in myriad ways.

  • Profile 3: Nut Butters: A Protein Pal — Although Gen Y students grew up in a climate of peanut distrust due to the increase in children’s allergies, college students today have embraced peanut butter’s valuable protein power along with that of other nut butters, especially almond.

  • Profile 4: Fruit & Vegetable Discovery — New college students are discovering a whole new world of fruits and vegetables. On campus they encounter expansive salad bars, unfamiliar vegetable side dishes and unusual vegan and vegetarian fare. Friends, restaurants and student retail haunts like Trader Joe’s introduce them to new dried fruit snacks, to-go salads and produce-centric beverages.

  • Profile 5: Asian Love Affair — We hear so much about how younger Millennials have grown up eating global cuisine. From our survey, we learned many continue the discovery in college. Thanks to dining halls and nearby ethnic restaurants, students have many opportunities to try new foods. While flavor is the primary driver, other qualities attract students such as the vegetarian possibilities and robust amount of vegetables. Customization is another draw.

  • Profile 6: Italian & Mexican: Familiar Comfort — While college is a time to explore new foods and diets, it’s also really stressful. Sometimes a kid needs a little comfort, something familiar, warm and filling. That’s where Italian and Mexican cuisines come in.

  • Profile 7: On-the-Go Fare — “Easy to make.” “Portable.” “Eat quickly.” “Eat as I walk to class.” These are the refrains coming from our student survey respondents about their “go-to” foods.

• • • • •

The Culinary Trend Mapping Report is an indispensable tool for those whose job it is to stay abreast of what's hot—and what will be—in the food world.

The reports leverage the Center for Culinary Development’s signature Trend Mapping technique, a validated method for identifying which culinary trends are gaining traction and which are simply flashes in the pan.

Each 65+ page journal is packed with trends, data, strategies and insights on the food industry that simply aren't available anywhere else. To further enrich our already industry leading analysis, our reports now include new charts, listings, and other features based on results culled from Datassential MenuTrends, a database that tracks 7,000 distinct U.S. restaurants and over one million menu items.

Each Issue of the Culinary Trends Mapping Report

  • Identifies the maturity level of foods and ingredients according to CCD’s unique, proprietary 5-stage trend mapping process.
  • Concentrates on a theme that is affecting the food industry, and then looks at the emerging and established trends along the Trend Map that are shaping this theme.
  • Delves into these trends and what they mean for you and the manufacturing, retailing, and foodservice industries.
  • Gives strategic insight into how consumers are thinking of and reacting to new foods and ingredients.
  • Provides business know-how regarding opportunities, challenges, and ways to implement current trends into foodservice, retail, and packaged goods operations.
  • Presents a feature interview with a member chef from CCD’s exclusive 80+ member Chefs’ Council who offers expert analysis and unique perspective on a specific trend.

Trend Mapping

Trend Mapping is guided by the premise that major food trends pass through five distinct stages on their way to the mainstream:

  • Stage 1: The ingredient, dish and/or cooking technique appears at upscale dining establishments, ethnic and popular independent restaurants.

  • Stage 2: The item is featured in specialty consumer-oriented food magazines such as Bon Appetit plus retail stores such as Sur La Table that target culinary professionals and serious home cooks.

  • Stage 3: The item begins to appear in mainstream chain restaurants—Applebee's or Chili's—as well as retail stores such as Williams-Sonoma that target recreational cooks.

  • Stage 4: Publications such as Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens pick up the buzz.

  • Stage 5: Finally, the trend makes its way to quick service restaurant menus and either starts to appear or gains increased mainstream presence on grocery store shelves.

Executive Overview
Why Collegiate Gen Y Eating? - Kimberly Egan
Executive Summary

Trend Summary
Dining Along the Meatless Spectrum
The Mighty Chickpea
Nut Butters: A Protein Pal
Fruit & Vegetable Discovery
Asian Love Affair
Italian & Mexican: Familiar Comfort
On-the-Go Fare

Chef Speak
Dwight Collins & Ida Shen: Catering to the Collegiate Palata

Strategic Implications
Opportunities for Collegiate Gen Y Eating

Source List

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