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Creating Loyal Customers from Kindergarten through Graduation - August 2016

Leading foodservice directors from 60 school districts were surveyed about communication strategies and programs used to strengthen student participation and loyalty for on-campus dining. School district foodservice directors overwhelmingly reported that hands-on programs keep young consumers interested in school nutrition programs, with taste testing being the most important.

Read this Study to learn more about:

  1. The importance of taste testing new food items to keep students engaged in school nutrition programs
  2. The impact of kitchen tours and nutrition education classes on student loyalty for meals served at school
  3. Communication strategies employed by school district foodservice leaders to keep students and their parents engaged in the school meal program

Social Media on Campus – April 2016

College and university foodservice professionals and full time student consumers were surveyed about their use of social media related to a wide range of campus venues including: residential dining, convenience stores, quick service restaurants, vending and catering on campus. Y-Pulse conducted the first study exclusively focused on social media usage related to campus foodservice in 2010; this new study provides insight into what is trending now and how social media usage compares to five years ago.

Read this Study to learn more about:

  1. The social media platforms students use for information on campus foodservice and how these platforms have changed over the past 5 years
  2. The information students seek out from campus foodservice venues
  3. Ways in which foodservice professionals communicate to students and what social media policies they have in place

Gen Z on Campus - July 2015

Leading college and university foodservice professionals were surveyed about their experiences with and opinions on the eating habits and preferences of their student consumers. Fifty-six industry leaders including dining services directors, chefs, and registered dietitians were surveyed prior to the National Association of College and University Food Services Conference and personal interviews were conducted during the conference in Indianapolis, Indiana July 22-25, 2015.

Read this Study to learn more about:

  1. What's on the minds of next generation consumers when it comes to dining
  2. How the dining habits of Gen Z has evolved from those of the Millennials
  3. What the biggest challenges are in menu planning for Gen Z

Y-Pulse School Foodservice Leadership Survey - July 2015

Leading school foodservice professionals were surveyed about their experience and opions about the eating habits and preferences of Gen Z consumers in elementary, middle and high school today. Thirty-two industry leaders were surveyed prior to the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference and Y-Pulse hosted a reception for participants to get together and share their thoughts in person in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 12, 2015. The survey delved into the similarities and differences between elementary, middle and high school students when it comes to serving them meals at school.

Read this Study to learn more about:

  1. What menu items elementary, middle and high school students are likely to enjoy this coming year
  2. How students' tastes change as they grow from elementary school to high school
  3. What were the biggest changes seen in students eating habits over the past year
  4. What the biggest challenges are in menu planning

Top 10 Foodservice Trends on Campus - July 2014

Ten years ago Y-Pulse began tracking foodservice trends through the nation’s leading foodservice directors in the education segments to give food marketers insight on what would shape the tastes of tomorrow’s consumers, and this latest report identifies how young consumers tastes are setting the pace for tomorrow’s menus.

In K-12 schools, lunch has become a learning lab empowering young consumers with the knowledge they need to make mindful nutritious choices. Today’s school foodservice directors are serving up a lot more than breakfast and lunch; 96% consider teaching nutrition education to be an important part of their job. On college and university campuses foodservice directors are on the cutting edge of experimentation with new foods, new concepts and new delivery systems for some of the most demanding consumers in America.

Read this Study to find out more about these Top 10 Foodservice Trends on Campus:

  1. Healthy By Design
  2. Wellness as a Way of Life
  3. Culinary Nutrition On Campus
  4. Cooking Is Back In Style
  5. Technology Enabled Connections
  6. Community Building
  7. Refining the Dining Experience
  8. Parents Back In School
  9. The Global Kitchen
  10. Food with a Conscience

School Foodservice Director Survey – February 2014

Leading school foodservice professionals from school districts throughout the U.S. were surveyed to learn about the magnitude of their responsibilities; the skill sets they have and those they would like to have in relation to running their nutrition programs. Over 88% of school foodservice directors have college degrees and more than 35% have advanced degrees.

In addition to their responsibilities for menu planning, and managing labor and food costs, today’s school foodservice directors have an important role in making school kitchens more efficient and cafeterias and dining areas more inviting for students.

Read this study to learn what school foodservice directors had to say about their responsibilities in running school nutrition programs:

  • Teaching nutrition education as an important part of the foodservice director’s job
  • How important it is to have knowledge and skills in planning equipment needs and purchases
  • The importance of communication skills in disseminating information to various audiences that include school administrators, parents, students and opinion leaders in the communities they serve

What Gen Next Chefs Are Cooking Up – January 2014

Culinary educators around the country were surveyed about what they are teaching to the next generation of chefs. Y-Pulse surveyed 49 chef educators and 27 culinary students about ingredients and techniques they thought were trending now and what was emerging as the next hot trend. The study included food, beverage, condiments and cooking methods.

Culinary instructors shared their thoughts on the most important things they are teaching their students today. They felt that local and sustainable are the menu development imperatives for today’s chef to understand. Classic European cuisine is important, yet modern cooking techniques are also on the curriculum.

The chefs of tomorrow will be creating delicious menus that hit important health and wellness goals. Today’s culinary students are learning about unconventional venues and working from a global pantry of ingredients to prepare a wide range of ethnic offerings.

Read this study to learn more about:

  • The importance of locally grown produce and sustainability on today’s menus
  • How important ancient grains and black rice may be on tomorrow’s menus
  • How craft beer, culinary cocktails, barrel aged drinks and housemade soft drinks are faring on beverage menus
  • Specialty salts and ethnic spices in signature dishes
  • How techniques like sous vide and smoking are transforming menu offerings

Wellness On Campus – presented at National Association of College & University Food Services Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota July 2013

Leading foodservice directors, chefs and registered dietitians working on college campuses throughout the country were surveyed to gain their perspectives on campus wellness programs. The professional surveys were compared with college consumer surveys and a review of leading campus programs around the country.

The study delved into the consumer mega trend of Life in Balance and how colleges and universities are developing trend setting programs that impact the consumers of tomorrow every day. This study explored:

  • The dynamics of wellness on campus and how foodservice can play a leading role in overall campus wellness initiatives
  • Perspectives on what’s to come in campus wellness programs
  • Critical components of successful wellness programs
  • Foodservice professional insight compared to college consumer perspectives on wellness initiatives

Added Sugar and Sweeteners, School Foodservice Perspective - September 2012

Leading school foodservice directors across the country were surveyed to gain their perspectives on the use of sugar, artificial sweeteners and corn sweeteners. They shared their own opinions and also their perspectives on how well informed their students, teachers, parents and the media are about credible nutritional information related to sweeteners.

Read this study to learn what school foodservice directors had to say about:

  • The use of various types of sweeteners in school foodservice
  • School Wellness Policies that have language limiting added sugars and sweeteners
  • The opinions of their key audiences — students, teachers and parents

Healthy Vending in Schools - July 2010

This study received the School Nutrition Association Showcase Award for Research in 2010. Y-Pulse tapped 24 leading school foodservice professionals who handle vending operations and over 1,600 elementary school students to explore their attitudes and behaviors related healthy vending in schools.

Foodservice professionals unanimously agreed that product freshness and availability of items was important to their consumers. They also believed that pricing and the method of payment were a top concerns to their students. The appearance of a machine was also important to students' vending choices.

Read this study to find out:

  • Which healthy and fresh foods leading school foodservice vending operators felt
  • would be most important to their operations
  • How important "green" vending strategies are to vending operations in schools
  • Which promotion tactics are used to promote healthy vending in schools

What Are Gen Y Chefs Cooking Up - October 2009

Aspiring chefs will be the menu makers of tomorrow and they are starting to influence dining trends today, from the use of molecular gastronomy to the increasing incorporation of artisan, farmstead and locally-produced ingredients.

The study is about what chefs of tomorrow are thinking about through a survey of the culinary students, now in their 20s and early 30s. This study provides menu insight from chefs who will be serving their contemporaries. Read it to find out what may likely be on tomorrow's menus:

  • Good and good to go: Nine out of 10 respondents said they have used local and hand-held foods "somewhat" or "to a great extent," while more than half said that they have explored the use of green kitchens and foods that meet special dietary needs
  • Fab Flav: "Hot" right now flavors include: fruit flavors like citrus, strawberry or mango; vegetable flavors with a roasted or herb-infused profile; and cultural flavors spanning Mediterranean, Asian and Hispanic cuisines. Combinations of flavors were also emphasized
  • Form over function: Interest is high in creative forms when presenting foods, from bite-sized or tapas portions to food containers like bread bowls to environmentally-friendly forms with minimal packaging

Vending Trends in Schools - October 2009

They're young. They're tech savvy. They're demanding and informed beyond their years, compared to previous generations. And for many school-age consumers, even a simple push of a button at a vending machine isn't so simple anymore. When it comes to vending machines these days, kids are very concerned about product freshness, availability and variety, similar to interests and demands of the broader consumer marketplace.

An e-focus group, operators who serve nearly 200,000 students nationwide on a daily basis answered key questions about vending machines in schools. Read this study to discover:

  • Concerns of kids when it comes to vending machines
  • Considerations to be taken when building school vending operations
  • Changes school foodservice professionals would make if given the opportunity to upgrade their current vending operations

Vending Trends in Colleges and Universities - October 2009

For all of their wireless technology and social media interconnectedness, sometimes all college or university students want to do is pick something good, healthy, affordable and convenient with a simple push of a button. Regardless of whether students are pulling all-nighters during finals week or rushing to get to their next class on time, sometimes what they really need is a quick snack.

College and university foodservice professionals who serve nearly 115,000 students nationwide participated in a recent e-focus group where they provided insight about vending operations on college and university campuses. This study reports:

  • Concerns of students when choosing vending machine snacks
  • Trends affecting today's college and university vending operations
  • Challenges operators face when building the "ultimate vending operations"

Ethnic Foods in Schools - May 2007

The student populations in schools across the country have become increasingly more diverse over the past decade. Like the student populations, the types of ethnic cuisines available to students have also grown. School foodservice operators have observed this trend and have noticed that the taste for ethnic cuisines becomes stronger as students mature.

School foodservice directors representing 45 school districts in 31 states were surveyed about the implications of serving ethnic foods in schools. Read this study to learn:

  • How schools are changing their menus to incorporate ethnic cuisines
  • How kids' preferences for ethnic food changes as they mature
  • Kids' favorite flavors in the cafeteria

Elementary School Breakfast Survey - October 2006

Given all of the research documenting that kids perform better in school after eating breakfast, it is hard for one to imagine why any school would not offer breakfast to its students. While most schools do currently offer hot and/or cold breakfast options, the majority of them face resistance from principals as well as teachers. Though breakfast service may only be a matter of minutes, it is an essential part of a student's day in order to focus and learn in a classroom setting.

A study was conducted where 87 foodservice professionals responded to questions about breakfast service at school. This study shows:

  • What stands in the way of some schools offering breakfast service
  • The difference in time given for breakfast service
  • Kids' favorite breakfast foods-beyond sugar-filled cereals and doughnuts

Produce Market Dynamics on Campus - October 2006

When college and university foodservice directors consider produce, the important factors that come to mind are quality and availability. If asked, foodservice directors most likely could not specify their produce brand of choice, but they could tell you about the variety and size of the produce. Brand loyalty may not be a trait displayed amongst college and university foodservice directors, but they have recognized ways that a branded produce company could get their attention.

College and university foodservice operators were surveyed regarding the different aspects of their purchasing practices at their respective schools. This study explores:

  • How often operators receive deliveries and which types of produce companies they prefer
  • How a branded produce company can get foodservice operators' attention
  • Which value attributes are most important to operators when ordering fresh product

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For insight beyond younger consumers visit
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