The research was commissioned by Holiday Inn to demonstrate the improved productivity of those who select the hotel group’s new, market leading Food For Thought menu – bursting with freshly prepared dishes - over traditional meetings food.
The university’s Food Research Centre conducted the experiment with two groups of delegates, both groups took part in the same full day conference with a series of seminars and cooperative learning exercises and presentations.
Throughout the day the delegates were fed and four cognitive tests undertaken – one group was served food from a traditional meetings menu and the other was fed the new Holiday Inn Food For Thought menu, which includes hearty homemade soups, healthy wholewheat cous-cous and scrumptious roasted vegetable wraps.
David Taylor, Head of Meetings and Events for IHG said: “When we were creating the Food For Thought menu we noticed that there was very little in the way of research around the decline in concentration during meetings and conferences and how this is linked to food, so we saw this as a great opportunity to conduct some research ourselves.
He added: “We knew that our Food For Thought menu not only looked and tasted delicious but was crucial to the improved productivity of delegates in meetings and conferences. This new menu also allows businesses to feel confident that the investment they are making is effective. We are very pleased by the results of this study and hope businesses take note of the new options available.”
Manchester Metropolitan University’s Food Science Professor, Chris Smith, said: “When Holiday Inn first approached us about the Food For Thought menu, we thought it was an interesting concept that would make a good experiment. The group eating traditional conference food experienced a slump in energy towards the end of the day whereas the Food For Thought group were able to concentrate for longer and were more aware and responsive.
He added: “There are a number of factors that affect this ‘afternoon slump’ with the most dominant factor being the relaxation produced as a result of the body’s digestive process following a meal. The Food For Thought menu includes whole grains, fruits and fish which are easier for the body to digest and this explains how they were able to perform significantly better than the other group.”
The Holiday Inn Food For Thought menu is an independently accredited menu – the first of its kind in the sector – which has been specially devised by chefs to aid concentration and maintain energy levels throughout a day of meetings and conferences.