The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) has revealed results of what it calls the most extensive research ever undertaken into university catering and student eating habits.
Research was conducted with more than 3,000 students across three continents.
The organisation commissioned three independent studies covering USA student food trends and how they compare to students in the UK, catering for international students and global food trends.
Results from the first study found the UK is ahead on healthy eating, with 59% of students saying they eat what they consider to be a healthy diet. But results from US students showed that only 35% thought campuses were doing a good job of offering healthy food.
Students from both sides of the Atlantic cited a low price point as the most important factor when purchasing food.
The students saw meals as five smaller meals a day, as opposed to the traditional three meals, suggesting an opportunity for caterers to drive new revenue through snacking.
The second study revealed how the number of overseas students eating on campus has changed the way universities approach their catering facilities.
According to the findings, 67% of international students like to try different dishes they may not have tasted before.
The top three cuisines international students would like to see more of on university menus were Chinese (42%), Italian (31%) and Japanese (30%).
The third study from TUCO examined global food trends by exploring the current and emerging states in 36 cities across five global regions and examining the menus of 2,305 outlets.
The study identified 12 macro food trends, including over-arching casual, fine-dining, on-the-go and leisure feeding, and 84 micro trends.
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