Sodexo serves more than 12 million meals a month to students and staff at 700 colleges and universities in North America, so the company has plenty of insight into what snacks college students demand that reflect young consumers’ socially-minded lives.
“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,” says Nadia Jackson, Sodexo’s Director of Retail for North America.
Snacking throughout the day is important for these young consumers. 81 percent of Gen Z consumers surveyed said they want healthy, convenient snacks that they can grab whatever time of the day or night.
Food choices in the United States continue to be influenced by the rest of the world. Young consumers want to eat ethnically diverse food from Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe. This diversity of flavors will be reflected in snack trends for 2020 including 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.
Ethics continue to be a factor in the diets of Gen Z. 67 percent of younger consumers said they would pay more for snacks with an ethical pedigree, considering how the animals were treated, if the companies embrace workers’ rights, and if the ingredients came from farms that use sustainable practices.
Plant-based foods are here to stay, especially plant-based protein. Nearly two in five Americans are trying to add more plant-based foods into their diet, and more than half agree restaurants should offer more plant-based protein options. The number of different types of plant protein continue to expand to an ever-more diverse and delicious array of products.
Sustainability is also very important for these consumers, in both the food itself and the packaging it comes in.