How Non-Commercial Operators Are Demonstrating Transparency
When purchasing food for on-premises consumption, takeout or delivery, consumers increasingly are making choices with transparency—particularly sustainability and clean ingredients—in mind. The same applies when they’re visiting non-commercial foodservice locations at colleges and universities, hospitals, and business cafeterias.
Innova Market Insights Top 10 Trends for 2021 report signals the overall shift in consumer preferences toward “foods and ingredients that support personal health,” with transparency “emerging as a clear winner” and “brands upping their game to meet evolving ethical, environmental and clean label consumer demands.”1 Six in 10 global consumers want to know more about where their food comes from, with heightened consumer expectations encompassing everything from human and animal welfare to supply chain transparency, plant-powered nutrition, and sustainable sourcing.1
Meanwhile, 59% of the consumers surveyed for the International Food Information Council’s 2020 Food & Health Survey said environmental sustainability is an important factor in their food purchasing decisions.2 Just over half (51%) of surveyed parents with children younger than 18 also said it’s important to them to know that their food was produced with animal welfare in mind.2
Given these findings, it behooves operators to source products from suppliers who are transparent about their production methods—and to communicate that ethos to their customers. PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® and PERDUE® No Antibiotics Ever products can fit the bill, with chickens and turkeys that are never EVER subjected to antibiotics during their life cycle—not in the egg, not in the hatchery, and not in the feed.
Operators should inform guests of these assurances in signage and perhaps even in the names of their dishes. Instead of menuing a Grilled Chicken Sandwich, consider marketing it as a Grilled 100% No Antibiotics Ever Chicken Breast Sandwich.
Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey is widely recognized for its environmental and sustainability efforts, including innovative partnerships with local organizations to increase the purchase of sustainable food. The medical center is committed to providing sustainable meat and poultry by driving antibiotics out of meat procurement.3
The Food and Nutrition Services department at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has also embraced sustainability practices encompassing sourcing, recycling and more. They’ve increased the purchasing of poultry and beef that are never treated with antibiotics or hormones, and their chickens are raised on an all-vegetarian diet.4
Simplifying Information-Finding for Guests
In many cases, the non-commercial segment leads the foodservice industry in sustainable practices and in transparency. For example, contract management company Sodexo offers a phone app, dubbed bite, that allows its customers to purchase and pay for food at its university, business and industry, and senior center client locations. The app promises “complete transparency about what’s in your food” and gives users the power to “make informed choices with full nutrition and allergen awareness.”5
Fortunately for the higher education sector, there’s already a framework in place from which to implement and promote transparency and sustainability. Formed by the Culinary Institute of America and Stanford University, the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC) is a network of more than 60 colleges and universities nationwide that promote the established principles of healthy, sustainable menus and “measure the impact on students’ health and wellness, the environment, and operations’ overall sustainability.”6
MCURC member Cornell University, for example, has made a significant effort to implement select Menus of Change principles into its menus, including “Be transparent about sourcing and preparation.”7 The Cornell Dining Now website even includes a NetNutrition feature that allows students, faculty, staff and visitors to search all campus dining options to “filter out items that contain specific allergens or by specific diet preferences.”8
The non-commercial segment, with its captive customer audience and fine-tuned management prowess, has every reason and opportunity to support transparency and sustainability initiatives. This makes mindful purchasing paramount.
Fortunately, the supply side has solutions, like PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® chicken and turkey, raised with No Antibiotics Ever on an all-vegetarian diet with no animal by-products. Once operators purchase with these ethical standards in mind, they should bring them forward to guests—on the menu, in the app, on the website, and on to-go or delivery packaging. Putting transparency front and center can be a game changer and a profit maker.
- Innova identifies top 10 food and beverage trends to accelerate innovation in 2021, Innova Market Insights, Oct. 21, 2020, https://www.innovamarketinsights.com/press-release/innova-identifies-top-10-food-and-beverage-trends-to-accelerate-innovation-in-2021
- 2020 Food & Health Survey (International Food Information Council, June 9, 2020), https://foodinsight.org/2020-food-and-health-survey/
- Hackensack University Medical Center Named One of America’s Greenest Hospitals by Becker’s Hospital Review Three Years in a Row, https://www.hackensackumc.org/2017/11/20/hackensack-university-medical-center-named-one-americas-greenest-hospitals-beckers-hospital-review-threeyears-row/
- “Sustainable Practices Enhance Quality at Memorial Sloan Kettering,” Foodservice Equipment & Supplies, Sept. 1, 2017, https://fesmag.com/topics/the-latest-news/15054-sustainable-practices-enhance-quality-at-memorial-sloan-kettering
- bite, Sodexo, https://bite.sodexo.com/
- Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, https://www.moccollaborative.org/
- “Cornell Dining supports a healthier you through Menus of Change,” Cornell University, March 19, 2021, https://scl.cornell.edu/news-events/news/cornell-dining-supports-healthier-you-through-menus-change
- Cornell Dining Now, Cornell University, NetNutrition, http://netnutrition.dining.cornell.edu/NetNutrition/1