High-quality dining programs emerged at businesses years ago in a few markets, like the tech industry, as one way to reel in prospective talent, sweetening the job package with the promise of really good food conveniently on site.
Today, upgraded dining programs are no longer unique to niche job segments like Silicon Valley. Other industries have seen the benefit of using innovative food programs to attract and retain the best and the brightest in their fields.
Companies are enlisting foodservice providers—like Sodexo, Aramark, Bon Appétit Management Company, CulinArt Group and AVI Foodsystems—to redesign their dining programs, making them competitive not just in the cafeteria space, but in the food landscape overall.
The result is a rising number of on-trend, forward-thinking dining programs in the Business & Industry (B&I) sector. A look at what’s trending here is a smart way to gain insight into the modern consumer’s dining and flavor preferences. Thanks to an increasingly food-centric culture, the average employee is more informed than ever about food trends, ingredients and nutrition, bringing higher expectations and an enthusiasm for global dishes into the workplace.
And as B&I foodservice providers work hard to meet their clients’ needs, they’re raising the bar for consumer expectations in other areas of foodservice, too.
The biggest overarching trend in B&I is the demand for wholesome foods. Employees at these companies want the food that’s most convenient to achieve their health goals.
Each provider we spoke with boasts a health-and-wellness program with transparent menus that mark dishes with words like “Mindful” or “In Balance” to indicate healthy meals, fresh produce and high-quality ingredients.
For the employer, providing healthy food is a smart fiscal strategy to mitigate healthcare costs: “Healthcare costs have skyrocketed so much, a lot of companies want to include wellness as part of the office,” says Tony Morro, category manager of Food, Hospitality and Office Services at JLL, a Sodexo partner at Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMS) Lawrenceville, N.J., cafeteria, which averages 991 transactions per day.
The emphasis on healthy food in B&I speaks to the same overarching trend in foodservice around mindful eating: balancing feel-good food while maintaining a flavor standard.