The Creed Trends Hub launched on Monday 13th November, and has a dedicated zone for education caterers as well as hospitality and care home caterers.
There is a downloadable report full of insights and learnings from Creed’s insights manager Anna Clapson and guidance from executive development chef Rob Owen on how education caterers can tap into the trends in their kitchens and make them work on their menus.
Featured within the zone will be ‘Creed Trends Kitchen’, a space housing trend-led recipes that education caterers can incorporate into their menus, or use them to inspire new dish ideas to freshen up their offering.
Clapson said: “We’ve poured weeks of research and expertise into our Trends Hub, to make sure we’re bringing the inside knowledge to education caterers who will continue to face challenging times next year. It can be overwhelming for school, college and university caterers to not only get to grips with the upcoming trends, but then also find ways to link them back to their everyday operations.
“The Trends Hub is their digital guru, that they can access 24/7, whether that’s during after-hours menu planning, during their team meetings, or in development sessions with their catering staff.”
A Nation Challenged
At the core of the insights is the theme of ‘A Nation Challenged’, which underpins all the trends for next year. With inflation, energy prices, skills shortages and financial pressures, both education caterers and students’ wallets are significantly impacted.
Core Trend 1: Driving Value
Driving value doesn’t just refer to delivering low-ticket purchases; it’s also about strengthening the perceived value-for-money. Caterers need to ensure students, and their families, see the value in paying for school meals or visiting on-campus dining areas, as opposed to bringing packed lunches or visiting nearby high street eateries.
Showcasing a specialism and honing in on a specific area of expertise can achieve growth and will appeal to students who have access to hundreds of food brands via social media. This is being seen at places like Longboys – pastry chefs who create long doughnuts filled with surprising flavour twists – which could inspire grab & go doughnut stations in education settings.
Core Trend 2: Creating Memories
With student’s heightened expectations, combined with being more selective with their spending, caterers need to look at ways to elevate their dishes from the everyday.
With a quarter (26%) of consumers looking for an exciting or unique food and drink offering when dining out, adventure can be shown through various cuisines, punchy flavours and enticing food formats – whether that’s themed dishes, build-your-own burrito wraps, or inventive burger toppings.
Premiumising dishes can also elevate the dining experience through layering flavours or loading up classics, such as nachos topped with pulled pork and guacamole or dirty chips loaded with cheese, chilli, bacon or crispy onions.
Core Trend 3: Sustain & Retain
Highlighting the focus on our planet and environment, students and their parents continue to be conscious of where their food is coming from and the quality of ingredients. Creating a community feel will help keep students on-site, so ensuring the canteen area is an appealing space and marketing the food offering well is key.
There is also an increased focus on seeking ‘better for you’ options from students as well as their families. 73% of parents think it’s important to know the nutritional content of the meals they eat out of home, and so nutritionally sound meals remain important.
Core Trend 4: Tech Clever
Tech growth within hospitality has been significant in recent years, with 30% of 18–34-year-olds using recommendations from social media to find new food and drink venues.
Increasingly, school caterers are also engaging with students and families digitally, whether that’s sharing menus, promoting a special or simply to book school meals. Tech has also transformed the way dietary requirements, allergens and nutritional information are tracked too.
Tech-driven solutions that offer enhanced convenience are also welcomed. Whether that’s in schools with families topping their children’s school meal accounts up with money virtually or on a university campus where students can order via a QR code on the menu or use click and collect for takeaway dishes from campus eateries. Tech opens the door to new revenue streams which, in these challenging times, is advantageous for many caterers.
To visit the Creed Trends Hub or to download the 2024 Trends Report, visit: www.creedfoodservice.co.uk/insights-reports-trends.