Datassential found that 42% of college and university foodservice operators are serving The Blend and 83% either are serving or are interested in doing so

By Tom Karst

The mushroom and meat blend trend is taking firm hold at campus eateries.

In a survey commissioned by the Mushroom Council, Datassential found that 42% of college and university foodservice operators are serving The Blend and 83% either are serving or are interested in doing so, according to a news release.

Datassential based its findings on a September survey of 155 college and university operators, according to the release.

The use of the Blend — a Mushroom Council label for combining meat/protein with chopped mushrooms — is still rising, according to the release.

Of all colleges serving The Blend, 65% plan to use it more over the next two years, according to the release. What’s more, no college foodservice operators said they expected to decrease use of the Blend.

Datassential estimates operators served 29.1 million pounds of blended protein last year, according to the release.

“We’ve long known that The Blend has been a strong performer on college campuses, and this data reveals that, not only is penetration widespread, interest in serving The Blend is almost ubiquitous,” Bart Minor, president of the Mushroom Council, said in the release. “College dining halls are where consumers have their first opportunity to choose what they eat on a consistent basis, helping them develop food choices for life. The study validates our belief that The Blend will become the choice dish among new generations of diners.”

According to the release, the survey found:

  • Blended burgers are the most popular blended option; 30% of operators either serve or are interested in serving blended burgers, and operators served an estimated 15.1 million pounds of blended burgers in the past year;
  • The survey found 19% either currently serve or are interested in serving blended meatballs. Other current or potential Blend uses mentioned by operators include meatloaf (18%), tacos (16%), pasta fillings or toppings (14%) and chili (11%).
  • 60% of operators who serve blended dishes offer it to students multiple times per week;
  • Of all colleges serving blended products, 77% have introduced it in the last two years;
  • When serving blended protein, 95% of operators at least some of the time note mushrooms are included; and
  • Of the two-thirds of operators who plan to increase blend servings over the next two years, 50% are doing it to provide healthier options and 43% say they will increase blended servings because students like and/or are requested blended products.