Research has revealed that a whopping 80% of Baby Boomers would pay a premium for better quality food and hospitality in a care home if they could afford to – showing just how important the food and drink provision is when it comes to increasing occupancy and driving revenue for care homes. That’s according to a survey commissioned by Creed Foodservice, a leading food wholesaler and catering provider.
There is a demand for a variety of dining areas in the care home with over half (54%) of respondents saying they would like a café/deli style informal dining area. Similarly, 53% would like access to a formal dining area, with set tables and chairs. Additionally, four out of ten (39%) would welcome picnic-style alfresco areas and over a third (36%) would like a casual lounge with sofa seats where they can enjoy food in takeaway boxes in front of the TV or chatting with friends.
Although British fare remains the firm favourite, global cuisine would also be welcomed on the menu. The three most popular international cuisines are Italian (60%), Chinese (56%) and Indian (47%). In addition, three quarters (75%) would like to see pop-up cooking serving food such as BBQs, Indian curries with choices of sides and authentic Italian pizzas cooked in a pizza oven.
Andy Williams (pictured), care sector specialist at Creed Foodservice, said: “Care home catering has hugely evolved in recent years, and the next generation entering the space – the Baby Boomers – have a higher expectation when it comes to quality, variety and taste of food and drink. We know anecdotally that catering will need to adapt to meet their needs and desires, but we want to get a really firm grip on what this generation is looking for so that we’re able to guide and advise the care sector on the specifics.
“The role the hospitality offering plays is huge; a staggering 95% of Baby Boomers say that the food and drink provision is important when choosing a care home. Furthermore, eight out of ten would pay more for a premium offering if their budget allowed. It’s not just a ‘nice to have’ – it’s a fundamental part of the decision-making process and will make a difference to occupancy rates, revenue and profit.”
The research also revealed that health and sustainable initiatives are also important to Baby Boomers, with half (50%) saying they would be pleased to see food and drink sourced ethically or sustainably. Furthermore, four out of ten (43%) would like to see nutritional and calorie information on menus and over a quarter (27%) see the benefit of their meals being fortified with things like vitamins, minerals, protein powders, collagen and CBD.
When it comes to hot drinks, classic British favourites are standing the test of time. 70% would like to have barista standard coffees such as flat white, cappucino and latte on offer and 74% would like teas such as breakfast, earl grey, peppermint and chamomile on the menu. Interestingly, appetite for more unique options is also emerging, with a fifth (20%) saying they would like to have alternative milk options such as almond, oat or coconut, as well as the option to choose additions such as beetroot powder, blue matcha and black charcoal.
Williams continued: “Baby Boomers are interesting; they are the first generation that, more generally, have the money to enjoy better quality dining experiences, have been introduced to new and emerging food trends early enough to have embraced some of them as part of their day-to-day diet, and are better travelled so have experienced global cuisine. Traditional British food and drink still plays a fundamental role, but gone are the days of ‘meat and two veg’. There is simply a higher expectation for the hospitality offering to evolve and mirror the standards and offering this generation is used to.
“Meeting these expectations, as well as catering for often complex dietary requirements, is a challenge. We’re in the middle of a national staff shortage, rising food prices and it’s been an uncertain couple of years. It’s vital that the care sector is supported by their foodservice partners – through menu and recipe creation, practical development sessions in the kitchen, open discussions around how to better serve their residents and so on.”
The research also revealed a fifth (20%) would choose to order their food and drink electronically, via an iPad or phone app. Although more respondents favour the traditional route of either viewing a printed menu and writing down their choices (40%) or ordering face-to-face with a member of staff (38%), there is certainly a move towards quicker and more convenient ordering methods, which is only likely to grow.
In addition to the research, Creed Foodservice has also launched a new Care Menu Solution – a three-week menu plan that includes full recipes as well as live data including nutrition, allergens and costs for every meal in the plan, making it incredibly easy to use. Dishes include British classics such as roast chicken, shepherds pie and fish and chips, alongside global cuisines including Italian pizzas, Indian and Thai curries and Chinese-inspired noodle dishes.