What have Institutional Foodservice Operators been telling our field team over the past months?
The following feedback has been collected over the past few months directly from foodservice operators and are shared here for your information. We hope you find them informative.
- Many Schools find that student canteen usage is down as a majority of students bring their own packed lunch.
- Apart from catering for children with allergies, some school canteens now offer special meals for those students following different religious dietary rules like Halal or Kosher.
- At the same time, there is a definite increase in the demand for various vegetarian meal options among students.
- Few School Canteens report that they are buying in ready-made fresh or frozen cakes, but they are still making sweet treats a couple of times per week. The most popular menu items are muffins made from scratch as well as banana bread and carrot cake.
- School children know what they like and demand various branded products – in particular, when it comes to fizzy drinks, pies, and sauces and also surprisingly, margarine spread. Some Canteen managers said they had tried cheaper unbranded pies, but they did not sell, so they reverted to branded pie products.
- Some Schools are now offering a breakfast service as well as after-school snacks for late pickups. However, this is not catered by the canteen, but paid for by the school and run separately by the P & C, volunteers and/or a teacher.
- As summer is arriving and increased temperatures recorded, School Canteens are offering more fruit, both fresh and frozen. Their summer menus include a variety of fresh seasonal fruits while frozen fruits and berries are used to make smoothies, which are becoming increasingly popular. Fresh fruit salad is also very popular among students.
- Primary School Canteens tend not to offer deep or shallow fried menu dishes; hence, they are not using oils. Instead, they offer ‘dry/oven fry’ versions of deep-fried products.
- High Schools and Colleges are mainly deep-frying potato chips, but increasingly also offering deep-fried chicken nuggets, Asian finger foods, fish as well as vegi & meat patties.
- In Aged Care Homes, party pies and sausage rolls are usually limited to ‘special occasions’ .
- Nursing Homes report that certain branded food items are a must and cannot be switched, substituted, or tampered with! The Homes report more resident satisfaction using branded products they know and like rather than cheaper, un-branded ones they do not care for. In particular, Aged Care residents prefer branded jams, spreads, condiments, and sauces, but also portion-control items, soups and ice creams. Otherwise, Nursing Home kitchens attempt to cut down on cost by using unbranded products, albeit these are seen to not be of the same quality as their branded equivalents.
- Due to different budgetary restrictions (if any), privately run Nursing Homes use a lot more branded foodstuffs compared with public ones.
- Residents also love anything made from scratch such as muffins, cakes, and scones.
- Most popular menu items overall? Fish & Chips and Sunday Roast Dinner!
- Interestingly, there seem to be a trend at the moment to use more rice as accompanying lunch and dinner carbohydrate, but also centre of plate food item.
- The between-meals snack options include fruit cups, jelly cups, Dixie cups, tub of yoghurt, boiled eggs, sandwich toasties, fresh fruit, and biscuits.
- Nursing Homes are also increasing offering different meal sizes – from small to medium to large, all depending on the individual resident and their appetite.
- Due to rising cost of eggs, some Nursing Homes have started to use liquid eggs as they are the cheapest.
- For budgetary reasons, Hospitals tend to use a lot of unbranded food ingredients as long as it is not a centre of plate food item.
- Increasingly, Hospitals tend to ask for feedback from their patients on discharge what they thought about the food that was served to them – the quality of the food; the variety; likes & dislikes.
- Increasingly, Hospitals have less and less time to make cakes and desserts from scratch, hence, buying these menu items ready-made.
- The most popular snack item among patients? Mini pies!