Aramark Brings Gen Z Food Trends To Life On College Campuses Nationwide

Posted On: 8/13/2018

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PHILADELPHIA -- 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, which serves 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.

Aramark's has also committed to 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. 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 USA certified and USDA Organic. 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.

Aramark's 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, one to two times a week now or in the future.

As part of its Healthy for Life 20 By 20 commitment with the American Heart Association, 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.

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 (a 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); and All American Beyond Burger, a plant-based patty.

Aramark is also introducing an enhanced Campus Dish Web and mobile experience on the campuses it serves. It will let students, faculty and staff see what dining locations are open now or nearby; personalize their experience by tagging their favorite locations and review menus and filter by allergens, dietary restrictions or special preferences. Users will also be able to identify the best meal plan to suit their lifestyle, using the Meal Plan match survey and 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. As the only existing Certified Humane pizza restaurant in the country, all of Oath's pizzas are made without hormones, artificial preservatives or antibiotics.