—Plant-based foods take hold on campuses, and pizza remains a campus classic
Chicago, July 11, 2022 — After two years of shifting operations to keep students and staff protected and safe, colleges and universities are returning to some semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy, which means more on-campus dining. Case unit shipments from broadline foodservice distributors to college and university foodservice operators increased by 47% in the 12 months ending May 2022, compared to the previous year when shipments were down by 33%, reports The NPD Group. Broadline foodservice dollar shipments to colleges and universities rose by 72% versus last year when dollars shipped declined by 35%.
In addition to the year-over-year unit growth of standard beverages and foods traditionally served on campuses, shipments of plant-based proteins have grown, according to NPD’s SupplyTrack, which continually tracks shipments and revenue from broadline foodservice distributors to commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets. Total case shipments of plant-based proteins from broadline foodservice distributors to colleges and universities increased by 82% in the 12 months ending May 2022, compared to a year ago, an increase of 29% from two years ago. Although plant-based beef was an early entry in the plant-based category and continues to grow, plant-based chicken case shipments increased by 142%, year over year, rising 72% compared to two years ago. Case shipments of plant-based beef grew by 111% over last year and increased by 66% versus two years ago. Pork and shrimp case shipments, which are relatively small in shipment volume compared to chicken and beef, are also growing.
As much as things change on campuses, they stay the same. Pizza remains a college campus classic. Case shipments of finished pizza increased by 115% in the reported period compared to last year. Cheese/plain is the most popular pizza topping ordered by college and university foodservice operators, representing 57% unit share of pizza topping cases shipped from broadline foodservice distributors to campuses. Traditional or standard crust — not deep-dish, thick or thin, or flatbread — is the pizza crust of choice, representing 78% share of case shipments. Plant-based pizza crust and toppings are also catching on. For example, case shipments of plant-based pepperoni to campuses increased 30% in the 12 months ending May 2022 compared to a year ago. Boxes were the top pizza packaging selected by campus foodservice operators, representing 70% of pizza packaging shipped to colleges and universities.
“After a couple of challenging years, it’s good to see foodservice operations on campuses coming back in full swing,” said Tim Fires, president of NPD’s SupplyTrack. “Campus foodservice directors work hard to understand the latest food trends that appeal to college and university students and rely on foodservice manufacturers to help them in their effort.”