Consumers, workers need quick, convenient solutions for nourishment during busy times.
Across industry segments, and especially in healthcare, noncommercial operators are looking to satisfy consumers’ around-the-clock appetite for convenient snacks.
To do so, they’re expanding their grab-and-go offerings to accommodate so-called “anytime snackers” — consumers who are willing to snack whenever the craving strikes them, regardless of time of day. Specifically, they’re enhancing their snack assortments with items that appeal to specific dietary needs or objectives, such as an energy boost between meals or a late-night treat.
But neither snacks nor snackers should be painted with a single brush. In order to appeal to consumers’ palates and pocketbooks, noncommercial operators in the healthcare segment must customize their snacking strategies to meet the demands of their own customer base.
Healthcare and Senior Living Face Challenges
The foodservice industry has for some time been experiencing a significant labor shortage, and the pressures have been particularly acute in hospitals and senior living facilities.
A robust offering of grab-and-go foods can help alleviate those pressures by reducing foodservice staffing needs. In addition, grab-and-go offerings can help meet the demands of healthcare foodservice customers — especially hospital workers — who are often under tremendous time constraints and may not have time to sit and enjoy a leisurely meal.
Industry foodservice providers have been responding by expanding their offerings of these services. Twelve percent of healthcare foodservice operators said in the recent Datassential 2020 Healthcare Keynote report that they were planning to add kiosks with grab-and-go foods. It was the No. 2 dining service these companies were planning to add, behind only food hall/station type dining. No. 3 was adding un-staffed micro markets, another popular option for grab-and-go snacks, at 10%. Other convenience-oriented solutions healthcare operators are considering included convenience stores and food trucks, each being planned by 8% of operators.
Hospital foodservice providers often must offer meal and snack opportunities around the clock for both patients and staff. Grab-and-go options such as kiosks, micro markets and vending machines can help them satisfy these demands. The Datassential report indicated that healthcare workers have higher demand for between-meal snacks, especially in the mornings between breakfast and lunch.
Among consumers in healthcare venues, 33% who do not currently have access to kiosks with grab-and-go foods said they would like to see such offerings, followed closely by convenience stores and food trucks, each desired by 29% of consumers. Another 24% said they were interested in un-staffed micro markets, and 23% said they would like access to vending machines.
Convenience Key in Senior Living
Convenience is also important to consumers at senior living facilities. The Datassential Keynote report found that among diners who had a choice among different eating venues in senior living facilities, convenience was the driving factor in making their selection, at 36%.
Simultaneously, senior living facilities are also under pressure to improve their culinary offerings in order to attract retiring baby boomers as residents. “Residents today are into fresh, healthy, batch cooking [and] international foods,” Cheryl Torre-Rastetter, director of dining services at Pittsburgh-based senior living facility Providence Point, told Food Management upon completion of its seven-month renovation earlier this year. The project expanded the grab-and-go section at Madison Café, its on-site restaurant, and the menu of appetizers in the Light Horse Lounge, its on-site bar.
For busy healthcare and senior living facility workers, visitors, patients and residents, it’s clear that convenient, grab-and-go options are a must, whether they’re offered from kiosks, convenience stores, vending machines, micro markets or other foodservice outlets.
For more information about how to meet the on-the-go snacking demands of today’s consumers, download Mondelēz International’s State of Snacking™ report.