New research released in a collaborative report between TUCO and Green Cuisine explores the eating and drinking habits of students on university campuses across the UK. Topping the list of the most influencing factors are concerns for the environment, personal health and budget challenges.

The report was launched at our Summer Conference in Edinburgh at the end of July, with European Marketing Manager of Green Cuisine, Holly Marrero Easson delivering a workshop exploring the findings and some suggestions for how caterers may want to apply conclusions drawn from the research in their kitchens.

The research suggested that 7 in 10 university students are ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about the environment, with considerations for how they consume topping the list of ways they are trying to be more environmentally friendly. It seems this group are truly putting their money where their mouth is, with 55% choosing to eat plant-based regularly on campus, and 31% identifying as either plant-based, flexitarian, vegan or vegetarian. With 54% suggesting they choose to eat plant-based and vegetarian food because they consider it healthier than eating meat-based dishes, it’s no surprise 42% students are looking to sustain themselves favouring high protein choices too.

It’s clear that cost of living challenges are also forcing changes in consumption behaviour – with eight in ten suggesting price is their biggest concern when buying food on campus, one in four suggesting they skip meals to keep the cost of food down, and 40% looking for price promotions.

Students call for more information and transparency

There are strong calls for brands to use recyclable and compostable packaging, with demand for transparent and responsible food chains. It also seems many students are looking for more detail on how their choices affect the environment, with nearly a third of those surveyed calling for carbon emission and organic status product labelling where relevant.

The research also delved into recipe and format preferences – with insights around favourite cuisine options and popular food formats. It seems established favourites show no sign of movement, with Chinese, Indian, British, Mexican and American dishes topping the popularity charts, whilst familiar formats like burgers, wraps, sandwiches, salads and pizza remain popular options for convenient consumption.

An opportunity for university caterers to optimise menus

There is a real opportunity for university caterers to optimise menus and meals to ensure they stay relevant and desirable, particularly given the plethora of choices now on the high street.  As an early pioneer of the plant-based movement, Green Cuisine are on a mission to make it easy for everyone, students included, to enjoy the benefits of plant-based with products that are convenient, tasty and nutritious.

To read the report visit

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