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Healthier and faster catering a priority for delegates

A new report shows how expectations are changing in the industry, driven by younger attendees.

Delegates’ expectations are changing the way catering is done at events, with an emphasis on healthier, faster and more sustainable meals, according to a new report published by the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales) and the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO).

The report, called "Leading the Way - Food for Thought" “paints a picture of a period of transition as event organisers and venues face the challenges of growing expectations, new trends and budget constraints. At the same time, an increasing number of local suppliers, sustainable food chains and artisan businesses in destinations like Wales are poised to help venues promote an exciting new brand of catering that looks and feels less "mass produced", ICC Wales and ABPCO said in a statement.

The two entities agreed that an increasing influence of what attendees want was obvious in five key areas:

Environmental impact

Event organisers, clients and delegates are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of large meetings. Topics such as food waste and reducing the use of plastic are now routinely discussed at the planning stage.

Local cuisine

Delegates are interested not just in experiencing local cuisine from a cultural point of view, but also in the sourcing and provenance of food products that are served during an event.

Eating on the go

Younger delegates in particular are keen on shorter, engaging and experiential conference sessions with an emphasis on networking and opportunities to share ideas. This means food that is served "on the go", standing or festival-style is increasingly more favoured than formal, sit-down dinners.

Increasing dietary expectations

Last year's IACC survey on Trends in Nutrition and Delegate Wellbeing– painted a picture of "an unprecedented increase" in health-orientated foods. ABPCO members agreed that delegates have increasingly high expectations that their own individual dietary needs and preferences can be met whilst away from home.

Social media drives culinary scrutiny

Social media provides an opportunity to give instant feedback on the quality, style and presentation of conference catering – there is nowhere for low standard food to hide. The rise of food bloggers, vloggers and niche foodie websites is also driving a renewed interest in what's on our plates, particularly among younger people.

Tags: Catering, Events, ICC Wales, ABPCO, Sustainability