Research lifts lid on baby boomers’ catering expectations

Andy Williams, Creed Foodservice
Andy Williams

Research reveals that 80% of baby boomers would pay a premium for better quality food and hospitality in a care home if they could afford to.

The survey, commissioned by food wholesaler and catering provider Creed Foodservice, looked at what the baby boomer generation – those aged 58 to 76 years – are seeking from care home catering. 

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. In particular, cooking stations for special calendar events and national holidays such as The Queen’s Jubilee and Easter would be welcomed. 

Andy Williams, 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 10 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 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, 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 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. 

Andy 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 that 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.

Date published: May 11, 2022