There are 21bn breakfast occasions every year in the UK. While consumers have been skipping breakfast of late, the meal is making a comeback in a different way, driven by convenience, health and changes in when meals synonymous with breakfast are eaten. Such trends in the breakfast category are only likely to become more prominent next year.
The blurring of traditional meal times presents opportunities for caterers and retailers to make breakfast an all-day option, according to Aine Melichar, brand development manager at dairy product specialist Kerrymaid: “Wholesalers should consider the idea of unlimited brunches, which are becoming increasingly flexible, and which are not restricted to traditional brunch times,” she says.
About 38% of all breakfasts have a healthy element, according to research conducted by the A Better Breakfast campaign, which was developed by brand agency Brand Belief to promote the importance of eating breakfast. Are wholesalers doing enough to help their customers capture health-conscious consumers in the morning rush, though?
Egg-based menu items, such as eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine and other variations, are becoming “increasingly popular” due to the perception that they are “better for you”, Melichar adds. To support busy caterers, Kerrymaid has created Hollandaise and Bechamel kitchen sauces. Melichar notes that these are perfect for eggs Benedict and eggs royale meals, removing the time and complexity of creating the sauces from scratch. Dafne Drighetto, purchasing manager at Zepbrook, which supplies products to legal, financial, media and other office-based businesses in central London, says the company has witnessed a 13-14% drop in sales of breakfast cereals and snacks in the past couple of years – the only segment now growing is ‘portable’ breakfast products.
She adds: “We have seen an increase in sales of healthier options, such as granola and muesli, and a drop in sales of the traditional options that are higher in sugar.
“Health awareness is really growing among our customers and there is a strong drive to move away from high sugar content products across the board, including drinks. Due to demand from customers, we have introduced healthy bars, such as those from Nakd and Eat Natural, and sales of these are growing.
“These would not fall into the traditional ‘breakfast’ category but I am quite sure that they are often a replacement for traditional breakfast products.”
For retailers and foodservice operators, offering attractive ‘carriers’ is vital for brunch on the move. Brunch-time bagels, flatbreads and bread thins are especially popular with consumers.
“Bagels are the fifth most popular carrier at breakfast and the third fastest-growing, after sandwiches and baguettes,” says Philippa Norton, marketing manager at New York Bakery. The company will be launching its first cheese-topped bagel for the out-of-home market in January.
Despite this innovation, wholesalers would be foolish to give up on traditional favourites such as the croissant. Lantmännen Unibake UK marketing manager Rachel Shoosmith suggests filling the company’s All-Butter Croissants or Cheese Twists with on-trend fillings such as egg, bacon and spinach.
“Placing croissants alongside typical sandwich carriers like rolls can educate consumers about alternative options that they would not normally make,” she notes.
Katie Littler, communications director at him!
Food-to-go is the 3rd most valuable shopping mission to the UK convenience sector – driving 890m shopping visits and £3.9bn to the sector in 2015. But there remains one significant part of the food-to-go market which UK convenience is still struggling to capture; breakfast-to-go accounts for just 1% of all visits to UK convenience.
The real footfall drivers for breakfast on the go in convenience are hot, hot, hot! One in ten shoppers will buy a hot drink and one in five will buy hot food. Breakfast shoppers are more turned on by hot options than any other meal occasion shoppers, including lunch. If a store isn’t offering it hot, then it’s unlikely to be considered a credible option.
Time is of the essence at breakfast time. Shoppers are looking for easy eat-on-the-move solutions. Food-to-go zones are more common and recent research has shown that shopper specifically want more ‘hot option’ meal deals.
The breakfast day part is a very short, intense window – one in ten shoppers between 7-8am are buying breakfast-to-go and they’re pretty much all gone by 9am. If a store isn’t ready for breakfast as it opens its doors, then it’s already missing sales and shoppers.
Only one in three shoppers notice any signs or communications in convenience stores so retailers need to ensure they’re communicating their offer carefully. Especially to bleary eyed, shoppers!
Let’s be honest, breakfast-to-go isn’t going to be an opportunity for everyone. Stores in either transient or city centre locations see much bigger demand. But breakfast-to-go is a big and growing opportunity, which other retail channels are already capturing and indeed growing. Blink, or yawn, and you’ll miss it.
· 1% of all convenience shoppers are there to buy BTG
· Between 7-8am, this is 11% of shoppers. This dips to 5% between 8-9am
· 32% of breakfast-to-go shoppers are on a mission to buy sandwiches
· BTG shoppers spend 4.7 minutes in store.
· BTG shoppers spend £4.53 on average in store.
Source: ‘HIM Shopper Research & Consulting’ – Him! speaks to 20,000 convenience shoppers every year as part of its annual Convenience Tracking Programme.