Whether it is the Midnight Munchies or Grab & Go between classes, college students ace snacking. According to Sodexo, which serves more than 12 million meals a month to students and staff at 700 colleges and universities in North America, the snacks college students demand reflect the young consumers' socially-minded lives. This is the driver in the newest snack products coming to the market in 2020.
"Snack trends premiering in 2020 focus on meeting the needs of college students, who want food that is diverse, ethically sourced and, of course, convenient to their busy schedule," said Nadia Jackson, Sodexo's director of retail for North America.
Snacktime is anytime – It is no surprise that convenience is important when it comes to snacking. When surveyed, 81 percent of Gen Z consumers said they want healthy, convenient snacks that they can grab whatever time of the day or night. In 2020, students will see new technology designed to deliver snacks faster than ever before, including more automation to make fresh food faster and sophisticated apps that make waiting in line a thing of the past.
The world is their oyster – Having grown up eating ethnically diverse food, tomorrow's college students want access to foods from Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe all in one place. This has led to sophisticated palates and they want snacks that reflect this diversity of flavors. International snack trends for 2020 include roasted seaweed sheets from Korea, rice and soy sauce crackers from Japan, goat milk whey cheese from Norway, gluten-free baked cheese balls from Brazil and dried beef sticks from South Africa.
Do Good Taste Good – Sixty-seven percent of younger consumers said they would pay more for snacks with an ethical pedigree. They care about the story behind the product and have access to a lot more information than previous generations. Does the yogurt company treat the dairy cows well? Are the ingredients from farms that use sustainable practices? Do the companies embrace workers' rights? These are all considerations when selecting which items to purchase.
Plant protein to power through the day – Sodexo is seeing a clear trend toward protein alternatives in snacks like cookies, cakes and ice cream. The evolution of plant-based snacks goes beyond soy and nut proteins to pea, mung bean, watermelon seed and hempseed flours. While plant-based snacks are not new, the number of different types of plant protein continue to expand to an ever-more diverse and delicious array of products.
Waste not want not – Sustainable packing is an important part of reducing waste and tomorrow's students want their to-go items in sustainable packaging. Compostable craft paper is replacing commonly used packaging such as Styrofoam and plastic. The ultimate goal is to eliminate the use of plastic packaging and use less disposable packing altogether.