by Loren G. Edelstein | April 01, 2014
In M&C's April 2014 research poll on F&B trends, we also asked meeting professionals what they consider important when planning menus for their events. In addition to the answer choices provided, many of the 111 respondents wrote in other considerations and comments, as follows.

Healthfulness                               73%
Creativity                                      62%
Allergy-safe items                        56%
Low cost                                       53%
Locally sourced ingredients         38%
Certified organic ingredients        10%
Other                                            25%

Verbatim comments:
• Depends on the programs; my clients are very varied.
• Appropriate for group
• Quality of food is king. The food must be outstanding.
• Budget - it doesn't have to be low cost, it has to fit the budget. Certified organic is a red herring.
• Variety of lower-cost items - that is, not just chicken prepared two ways. Ratio of servers to guests. The "++" as a consideration more than just cost of items. Flexibility of use: dessert at afternoon break vs at lunch
• Healthy to us is a lighter fare. We've been doing deli buffets because it gives choice and is much lighter than the hot buffet choices.
• Variety from day to day
• Will they be happy with the meal?
• Variety
• It's an oxymoron that any of the above choices can be low cost.
• FLAVOR! Eating unripe melon in January is such a bummer. Seasonal produce is more important to me than local, organic, etc.
• Regional specialties
• Vegetarian options
• Options for vegan and gluten-free
• The most common request I seem to be getting is for "simple fare done well" rather than fancy dishes. We look for menus that offer this as well as fancier fare. Variety of options, particularly as longer events, is also important.
• Reasonable cost is critical.
• If locally sourced is cheaper, then great, but in NYC it's all from somewhere and it doesn't matter as much to our attendees. Also, our attendees still like the standard options; we have healthier options and they're important but not as widely adopted.
• While I don't look just for healthy foods, I won't order items with too much sugar. I don't order pastries with sugar drizzle and now order more breakfast breads. Wish more places would reduce the sugar content.
• How the items match the audience demographics. One event we do is 98% male, so we look for chicken wings, meatballs, mini sandwiches, etc.
• Quality of the food
• Not necessarily LOW-cost, but nothing extravagantly priced!
• Meat and potato options
• Taste and presentation
• Flavorful
• Vegetarian entrée options
• Appeal to mass audience
• Gluten-free option