20 DINING TRENDS
Avocado anything. Coconut sugar. Less meat, more
flavor. Tech apps to streamline meal prep. Innovative
apps to monitor allergies. All of these trends and more
are on the table for 2020. This list of the top 20 trends
for the year will give you a glimpse into the future of
what’s important to the students on your campus.
Catering to Unique
Today’s students are more health-
conscious and more concerned
about the environment. They have
more choices than ever before and
hold their campus dining facilities
to a higher standard as a result.
01 REIMAGINING THE BASIC BURGER
Americans eat 10 billion burgers a year. Replacing one-third of the meat with alternative, plant-based ingredients would be
like taking 2.3 million cars off the road.1
The James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project2
encourages chefs to create healthier, more sustainable, and tastier
burgers using mushrooms. Benefits of substituting a pound of meat for a pound of mushrooms include using less water,
using less energy and generating fewer carbon emissions.3
To meet consumer demand for more plant-based meals, less soy and greater sustainability, chefs are also blending ingredients
like mung beans, hemp seeds, avocados, wheat, barley yeast, pumpkin, watermelon seeds and golden chlorella algae.
Beef accounts for nearly half
of the land use and greenhouse
gas emissions associated with
the food Americans eat.
- World Resources Institute
02 SIMPLICITY IS ON THE MENU
Today’s home chefs are looking for two key ingredients when it comes to cooking: quality and simplicity. They are looking
for simplified recipes that eliminate a step or two without impacting taste. Think: five-ingredient meals and one-pan recipes.
Convenience continues to dictate many of the choices consumers are making when it comes to what’s on their plates. While
consumers still enjoy cooking, they want to save time while also elevating the taste, wholesomeness and quality of their
food. Expect to see more campuses offering “semi-scratch” meals, which involve using pre-cooked meats and pre-cut
vegetables that students can combine to make their own meals in less time.
55% of Millennials say
convenience is a key factor
in their food decisions.4
03 A BOWL FOR EVERY LIFESTYLE
While there’s no single point of origin for “bowl mania,” the trend gained momentum as burrito bowls, grain bowls, Buddha
bowls, power bowls and acai bowls began popping up in restaurants, on food blogs and on social media. Bowl-based dining
options fit especially well into college students’ fast-paced, grab-and-go lifestyle. Today, new diet-based bowls are exploding
Bowl meals grew 21.31%
from 2017 to 2018.5
New examples may include bowls focused on specific dietary preferences, such as:
• Paleo bowls focused on low-inflammatory meals that include locally raised protein,
quality carbohydrates and healthy fat
• Keto bowls focused on healthy fat and protein, with a low-carb option
• Vegan bowls delivering 100% plant-based meals
As more students make significant lifestyle changes to improve their health, reduce
their carbon footprint or better align with their values, we’ll see a greater variety of
bowl-based meals popping up on campuses everywhere.
No matter the lifestyle,
makes bowls satisfying
04 GOODBYE REFINED SUGAR, HELLO
Replacing 130 grams a day of refined sugars (the average intake) with healthy sugar substitutes can increase the amount of
antioxidants you consume each day, in amounts similar to that of consuming berries and nuts, according to the Journal of
the American Dietetic Association.
But just because consumers want less sugar, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to feed their sweet tooth. They want healthier
sweeteners, including honey, agave, coconut sugar, date syrup, pomegranate syrup, monk fruit and blackstrap molasses.
The top five sugars they don’t want are high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, aspartame/Equal, saccharin/Sweet’N
Low, and fructose.7
Campus dining leaders can expect to see the demand for sugary beverages continue to decline in favor of more naturally
70% of American adults say
they are concerned about
their sugar consumption.6
05 SUPERCHARGING HEALTH
WITH FUNCTIONAL FOODS
Consumers love the idea of boosting the nutritional value of their meals by adding
ingredients that supercharge their health. Turmeric, ginseng, mushrooms, activated
charcoal, collagen, spirulina, hemp, jackfruit and avocado oil are all among the hottest
functional foods taking over dinner tables.
One of the fastest growing superfood arenas is anything that promotes “gut health.”
Digestive health has emerged as a core component of today’s view of health and
wellness, with new appreciation of the powerful impact of the microbiome—the trillions
of bacteria and microbes that live in our intestinal tract. Not long ago, dairy owned the
probiotic market. Today, probiotics are being promoted through other foods like
kombucha, kefir and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi.
By 2023, the global market for
probiotic ingredients is expected
to reach $64 billion.8
The ingredients that
are making the
biggest waves in the
marketplace are those
that are both
functional from a
(like superfoods) and
have the perception of
being more natural.9
Today’s students are not only more
conscious of their health and the
environment; they’re also busier
than ever. To meet their need
for fast, nutritious food, higher
education dining facilities should
consider expanding their selection
of meal kits, campus delivery apps,
ready-to-drink beverages and
06 THE MEAL KIT BOOM
Most Americans want to improve their eating habits, but not everyone can spend hours on grocery shopping and food
preparation each week—especially if they’re also juggling a full course load, a part-time job and campus activities. Meal kits
bridge the gap between home-cooked meals and takeout. They allow consumers to make homemade gourmet meals and
learn cooking skills without the time and effort involved in planning and shopping for them.
Consumers have many meal kit options, including healthy, diet-specific or traditional. The most popular options offer plans
based on flavor preferences and fun twists on traditional dishes.
Home Chef™, a meal kit and food delivery company, offers meals and meal kits to students on campus. Pre-portioned
ingredients and recipes are delivered directly to students’ doorsteps, providing a new solution for those who enjoy or want
to learn how to cook.
Within the past few years,
the meal kit industry has grown
from $1.5 billion to over
$5 billion annually.10
07 MOBILE FOOD DRIVING INNOVATION
Consumers have a big appetite for having their food delivered from restaurants and grocery stores. This ties into their overall
demand for convenience and tech-driven dining experiences. Mobile apps account for 60% of digital
Today’s higher education students love the Good Uncle™ app12
, a food delivery system designed specifically to cater to
college students. Meals are no more than $12, delivery is free and fast, and each dish is prepared daily. Each meal is crafted
by Michelin-starred restaurateurs who curate the best food options. The meals are also designed for easy delivery so they
look as appetizing upon arrival as they would appear plated. Students can also pick up their orders at convenient locations.
By 2021, nearly 50 million
U.S. consumers will use a
food delivery app.11
08 A FLOOD OF READY-TO-
Functional drinks represent the fastest- growing functional market, according to
market research company Frost and Sullivan.
In 2019, an increasing number of beverage brands have jumped on to the
Ready-to-Drink (RTD) bandwagon with leading-edge innovations. The market
includes iced coffees and teas, kefir yogurt drinks, CBD-infused drinks, collagen
waters, probiotic beverages, smoothies, breakfast meal replacements and much
more. Consumer awareness for health and wellness, demand for clean labels and
functionality are just a few contributing factors driving this category.
The global RTD market
is predicted to reach $17.67 billion
by 2025, with a growth rate of
7.2% from 2018 to 2025.13
Two key ingredients of RTD
beverages are functionality
• Functionality — Consumers
mainly seek choices that
include antioxidants (47%),
promote brain health (40%),
are anti-inflammatory (35%)
or have probiotics (30%),
according to Mintel.
• Convenience — On-the-go
consumers are looking for
products that fit their active
09 THE SINGLE-SERVE SNACK PACK IS BACK
Single-serving snack options have been popular for decades. What’s new is refrigerated single-serve snack options. This
innovation expands the opportunities for new dining options for consumers — a bonus for college students, who are always
eating on the go.
The keyword is “fresh” in this new generation of grabbing and going, with meals and snacks all perfectly portioned and in
convenient single-serve packages.14
Fresh grab-and-go options heading to the fridge include:
Hard-boiled eggs with savory toppings
To meet this growing demand, more higher education institutions are stocking their convenience stores with fresh, ready-to-
Granola bars with fresh fruit and veggies
Today’s college students have
access to more information about
the origins of their food than any
other generation before them. As
a result, they have come to expect
more transparent labels that break
down key nutrients, warn them of
potential allergens and help them
understand how their choices
impact the world around them.
10 NUTRITIONAL LABELS IN DEMAND
Consumers want to understand what is in their food. They want “clean labels” with recognizable ingredients that are free
from hormones, GMOs or antibiotics. Consumers expect transparency about where and how their products are made.
The ethical labeling trend will continue as more such labels are introduced and as adoption rates rise. Some labels gaining
popularity are Non-GMO Project, vegan and gluten-free.
The market share of certified commodities will also continue to rise. Over one-third of all coffee, a quarter of cocoa, and
almost one-fifth of tea is already certified according to voluntary sustainability schemes. More companies are expected to
adopt in-house sustainable sourcing schemes, following the lead of Starbucks, and Mondelēz International.
Three-fourths of U.S. consumers
claim to read the nutritional and
ingredient labels of food products.15
11 PEACE OF MIND FOR FOOD
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children in the United States with food allergies
increased by more than 50% from the 1990s to today. For many college students with food allergies, eating at a campus
dining hall is their first time navigating food choices and health risks on their own.
More than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions. The eight major food allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts,
tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean.
Today’s students, in particular, suffer from many food allergens. Fortunately, new technology and a growing number of
allergen-friendly menus have given them peace of mind. Many restaurants have even found that by accommodating food
allergies, they can boost profits by as much as 24%17
. To better serve the needs of allergy sufferers, they are turning to
mobile apps, such as AllergyEats and Spokin.
Food allergies affect
more than 10% of U.S. adults.16
12 STRIVING FOR A ZERO-FOOD-WASTE WORLD
An enormous amount of food goes directly from the table to the trash. It is estimated that 30% of the food produced in the
world is wasted every year — a total of 1.3 million tons.
Companies are working to reduce food waste by looking for ways to use some of the food supply that might not be ready
for “prime time.” One example is using so-called “ugly” produce in beverages. Case in point: A U.S.-based company launched
Ugly Juice cold-pressed juices and a UK-based retailer, Tesco, has launched Waste Not cold-pressed juices. Both juice lines
are made from oddly shaped produce that would otherwise go to waste.19
is estimated to be almost
The global cost of food waste
$1 trillion annually.18
As consumers become more savvy, they
have more concerns about the
environmental impact of their food
choices. Specifically, they want food that
is sustainably produced, non-GMO/not
bioengineered, organic and food that
uses recyclable packaging.
the products they buy be produced
it’s at least somewhat important that
54% of consumers say
in an environmentally sustainable way.20
New trends in sustainably sourcing include21
• Organic goes mainstream. Private-label organic food sales are
on a positive trajectory, including mass-market retailers.
• New plant-based foods. New options include fish-less fingers,
chicken-less tenders and omni-pork.
• Sustainability labels. The ethical labeling trend continues with
popular labels like Non-GMO Project, vegan and gluten-free.
• Certified commodities continues. A growing sector, for
example, over a third of all coffee, a quarter of cocoa and
almost a fifth of tea is already certified according to voluntary
• Ethical retail initiatives. Expect to see more natural and organic
food retailers adopt plastic-free aisles, as well as zero-waste
14 LOCALLY SOURCED
INGREDIENTS STILL IN DEMAND
Locavores are keeping the locally sourced trend alive and well. A locavore is someone who focuses on eating foods that are
made with locally grown ingredients. They look for food options such as cage-free eggs and chickens, group-housed pork
and humanely raised beef.
Eating “local” has become a major factor that consumers equate with being socially responsible, fresh, clean, natural, higher
quality, healthier and sustainable.22
a great or moderate influence
agree that buying local will have
84% of restaurant operators
on purchase decisions in the future.23
As one representative from the
National Restaurant Association put
it: “Farm-to-counter is not a passing
fad. It’s only going to get stronger.”
Consumers mean many things when they say local, including:
• Fresh and natural
• Family-owned producer
• Small-sized producer
• Within 150 miles
• Delivered direct by producer
• Artisan and craftsman
BIODEGRADEABLE AND EDIBLE PACKAGING
Today, consumers’ decision-making is also being driven by how products influence the health of the earth as much as the
health of their bodies. As a result, there is a global push toward reducing the environmental impact of packaging by using
bio-based materials.Non-plastic options are often made from plant-based components.
Organic and sustainable food companies are expected to move to biopolymers and other sustainable packaging materials.
Expect to see some disruptive innovation, like Eosta’s Natural Branding concept, which has saved 6.3 million pieces of plastic
in the first year.
Each year, 8 million tons of plastic
leaks into the world’s oceans.
That’s the equivalent of one garbage truck
dumping its contents into the ocean
every minute of every day.24
Some of the leading innovations in new planet-safe packing include25
• Eco bags. Indonesian sustainable disposables company Avani created an edible eco-bag made from cassava root starch
and other natural resins.
• Spoons. Indian edible cutlery manufacturer Bakeys created edible spoons made from rice flour, wheat and sorghum.
• Drink pouches. UK start-up Skipping Rocks Lab created edible drink pouches made from seaweed and plant materials,
which can be flavored or colored.
• Food film. UK researchers developed edible food film using plant carbohydrates and proteins, including konjac flour and
starch, cellulose or proteins.
• Drinking straws. UK disposable products manufacturer and supplier Herald Plastic has created a range of edible straws
with sugar, water, corn starch, bovine jelly, carboxymethyl cellulose stabiliser, glycerin humectant and aromas.
Forward-thinking campus dining leaders are already incorporating some of these innovations into their packaging, a trend
that will continue in the coming years.
As students become more
immersed in technology, they crave
more authentic experiences in real
life. These next five dining trends
reflect broader shifts in the way
they work, play, relax and enjoy
each others’ company.
Understanding the science and art behind the
environment is a must for winning over consumers.
Acknowledging the importance of students’
surroundings — whether they’re eating a meal, having
a meeting or studying — is all about stepping back to
look at the bigger picture and seeing how everything
works together. For example, students feel better in a
comfortable place where they can dine, socialize, work
Innovative organizations provide
twice as much access to
environment-focused amenities, such as
on-site cafés with specialty beverage options.
A smart space is a physical environment in
which people and technology-enabled
systems interact in increasingly open,
connected, coordinated and intelligent
ecosystems. Multiple elements — including
people, processes, services and things —
come together in a smart space to create a
more immersive, interactive and automated
experience. — Gartner26
17 MULTISENSORY DINING EXPERIENCES
We taste with our minds as much as our mouths. Multisensory dining focuses on engaging our senses of sight, smell, touch
and sound to increase our enjoyment of the food we eat. A modern, experiential dining environment is much more than the
physical space. It’s everything from the amenities offered to the artwork on the walls—even the lighting and background
music. Research shows pleasant background noise heightens our ability to perceive taste, which can make our food taste
better. One study by HUI Research found that playing a carefully selected mix of music that fits a restaurant’s brand boosts
sales of desserts, shakes and smoothies by 15%28
As facilities managers in higher education seek to elevate student dining, they should be mindful of how design, technology
and other trends can create unique experiences.
75% of people believe unique dining experiences
are worth paying more for, according to recent studies.
Similarly, 50% of people would pay more
for the exact same menu if it included chef interaction
– a common feature at multisensory restaurants.27
18 PREDICTIVE TECHNOLOGY
Predictive technologies have become the norm for monitoring student environments on campus. Thanks to advances in
sensor technology, it’s now possible to monitor virtually any component of a facility, from occupancy and energy
management to foot traffic. Such information will allow organizations to migrate away from traditional time-based preventive
maintenance measures, toward real-time, data-driven actions that predict when maintenance is needed.
Predictive technologies will make maintenance more proactive and less reactive. They will also become more crucial to
providing a comfortable dining experience.
For instance, when occupancy reaches peak levels, building automation systems could automatically lower the temperature.
Facilities can achieve 3x-10x
the cost savings with
19 MINDFULNESS AND DIGITAL DETOX
As students’ lives become more entrenched in technologically, they are recognizing the need to minimize digital distractions
and be more present.
They want to sleep better, feel less anxious, improve their concentration and experience deeper connections with others.
And being able to disconnect from their devices during important moments—such as while enjoying a meal—is becoming
increasingly important to them. Students crave immersive dining experiences that draw them away from their phones and
enable them to connect with others in more meaningful ways.
This is already being reflected in their restaurant choices as they are introduced to multicultural concepts, such as the
experience of watching their food prepared on a Japanese hibachi grill or trying a variety of meats at a Brazilian steakhouse.
Facilities leaders in higher education are making more of an effort to re-create these experiences by introducing trained
chefs who prepare unique culinary creations.
Heavy social media users
are twice as likely to
experience social isolation.29
20 PERMISSION TO PLAY
Immersive dining goes beyond exciting menu items and flashy food preparation. It’s about creating irresistible experiences
that stimulate the senses. It’s also about curating the kinds of experiences that build connections. Consider the Museum of
Ice Cream, an interactive art exhibit with ice cream and candy themed exhibits in Manhattan.
Visitors pay to explore the brightly colored, ice cream inspired rooms and dive into a swimming pool of rainbow sprinkles.
While we’re not likely to see campus dining facilities create an ice cream-themed dining hall anytime soon, we could see
them introducing more playful elements, such as swings, slides or games like giant Jenga.
Adults who take time to play
have less stress.30
How To Make Campus Dining More Engaging
Want to add more playfulness to your campus dining? Here are a few ways to help students break out of their routine:
• Add board games, puzzles or coloring books. Students will appreciate having something hands-on to do between
classes, rather than just checking their phone.
• Host a cooking class. Giving students the opportunity to learn a new skill and get involved in food preparation enhances
their enjoyment of meals.
• Ask students for input in choosing background music. Allow them to submit requests or vote on several playlists of
• Bring the outdoors in. Outdoor dining spaces are great, but not always practical depending on your location. Make your
dining facilities feel more like an oasis with tropical plants, nature-inspired artwork and furniture that uses natural elements.
Want to give your campus the ultimate dining experience? Learn more about how Aramark can help.31
1. This Flavor-Packed Burger Saves As Many Emissions As Taking 2
Million Cars Off The Road
2. JamesBeard.org: Why The Blend?
3. The Mushroom Sustainability Story
4. International Food Information Council Foundation, 2017 Food and
5. Tastewise.io Bowl Meal Trends
6. Food Dive Brief: 70% Of US Adults Are Concerned About Sugar
7. Sweeteners In Focus: Where Next For Allulose,
8. Global Market Insights Inc.
9. Fona International
10. Food Truck Empire
12. Why Good Uncle™ Is Every College Student’s Answer
13. Ready To Drink Beverages: A Convenient Answer To Consumer
Demand For Functionality
14. Whole Foods Market, Top 10 Food Trends 2020
15. Food Business News, Trend of the Year: Clean Labels
16. Study: More Than One In Ten U.S. Adults Has A Food Allergy
17. The Financial Benefits Of Being Allergy-Friendly
18. U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
19. Why Zero Waste Is An Important Trend To Save The Plant And
20. 2019 Food And Health Survey, IFIC Foundation
21. Watch For These Sustainable Food Trends of 2019
22. Food Industry Forecast: Key Trends Through 2020
23.Food Safety Considerations When Buying Locally, GFS
24. Aramark independent research
25. Transparency And Sustainability: 2019’s Food Trends
26. Gartner Identifies The 10 Strategic Technology Trends
27. The Growing Demand For Multisensory Dining,
28. Why Playing The ‘Right’ Background Music Increases Sales, Fast
29. Social Media Use And Perceived Social Isolation
Among Young Adults In The U.S., American Journal of Preventive
30. Adults Need Recess Too. Here’s Why You Should Take Time To Play.