How wholesalers can capitalise on breakfast sales


For many, the day doesn’t start until they’ve had something to eat and a hot drink. Olivia Gagan finds out how wholesalers can cash in on the most important meal of the day

Offering the right breakfast products and hot drinks means staying on top of a broad range of tastes and consumption habits. But how do wholesalers keep up with this constantly evolving behaviour? We quizzed suppliers for their take on how wholesalers can help their customers meet fast-changing breakfast and hot beverage demands.

With increasing access to unusual ingredients and international cuisines, shoppers expect more choice at breakfast time than ever. The days of having a bowl of cereal or a homemade round of toast before running out of the door are by no means over, but there’s no doubt the range of products consumers are buying for breakfast is expanding.

Matthew Grenter, sales manager at Brioche Pasquier, which produces pastries packaged for the retail market and frozen for foodservice, says wholesalers should ensure they can cater to differing weekday and weekend needs. “The market seems to have separated into two principal sectors – convenience and indulgence,” he says.

“During the week, consumers are often looking for speedy, on-the-go breakfasts that can be enjoyed at any time during the working morning, while at the weekend there’s time to relax over breakfast.”

For weekends, Grenter recommends offering popular fresh breakfast products and speciality breads to help drive sales. “Brits still enjoy a traditional fry-up, but they are likely to add a twist,” he says. “Modern interlopers, such as avocado and halloumi, might be included, and may be served with something a little different to the usual white bread, such as a croissant or a slice of brioche.”

On weekdays, convenience is the market-driving trend, particularly among young people. Data suggests more than one-third of Brits who eat breakfast out are aged between 16 and 34. “This is the millennial generation – students and young workers who are looking for tasty breakfast goods that can be packed into a pocket or handbag,” says Grenter.

He adds that freshly baked goods are well established as a grab-and-go breakfast option, and this category increasingly includes packaged, single-serving bakery products. “Individually wrapped products are perfect for breakfast eaten in the car or at the desk, as they are mess-free,” he adds.

Cross-sell with coffee

With many people skipping the traditional breakfast at home, and with the continued rise in popularity of coffee, Grenter says there’s a prime opportunity to implement a linked purchase, such as a coffee with a croissant or pain au chocolat, to maximise breakfast-to-go sales.

Mary Byrne, trade marketing manager for retail at Aryzta Food Solutions, agrees and says that sales can be boosted by advising your retail clients to strategically site bakery products and coffee together.

“By positioning counter-top and floor- standing units near to a coffee machine, they can generate additional impulse sales,” she says.

She also suggests splitting fresh bakery product displays into different occasions – breakfast pastries for the morning and other sweet items for the afternoon. “Two stands can hold morning products and afternoon sweet treats such as cookies, muffins and doughnuts, enabling retailers to increase their basket spend and upsell to shoppers while they are waiting for their coffee to pour,” she adds.

Coffee quality is key

Martyn Bell, category marketing manager at Jacobs Douwe Egberts, says that while coffee may be a spur-of-the-moment purchase, quality expectations are rising.

“People are growing increasingly familiar with grabbing a coffee at the same time as their breakfast out of home, and they are becoming more aware of the quality of coffee they are drinking,” he says.

Therefore, stocking branded products that boast their ingredient and provenance credentials on the packaging may help drive sales.

“Around 33% of coffee shop visitors consider themselves to be highly passionate about the quality of coffee they drink, and about only purchasing great-quality coffee,” he claims. “Many are becoming coffee connoisseurs due to the rise of out-of-home coffee purchases – therefore, operators must adapt their coffee offering to suit their audience.”

At home and in the office, despite the maturity of the market and a wealth of premium alternatives, Bell says instant coffee is seeing sales growth, suggesting instant is still an important coffee category to get right.

He suggests offering a range of branded, tried-and-tested instant coffee products as well as finely-ground premium instant lines to meet the growing demand for quality lines. “Regardless of the scenario, consumers shouldn’t be offered anything less than brilliant-quality coffee,” he says.

Traditional and trendy teas

When it comes to tea, Teapigs co-founder Louise Cheadle says old favourites remain the biggest sellers. “A good English breakfast tea is a must-stock, as this will be most people’s go-to hot drink,” she says.

Tetley’s senior brand manager, Marshall Kingston, concurs, and says a traditional brew is still popular on the move, too. “Black tea is responsible for the majority of volume out of home, equating to 81.9% of category value share. The English breakfast blend is experiencing growth, making it a must-stock product,” he adds.

Alternative herbal and fruit teas shouldn’t be ignored, though. “More and more people are drinking green and herbal teas, and there is a definite shift towards people choosing functional drinks at breakfast, particularly among younger café-goers,” explains Cheadle.

“Many people are swapping a morning coffee for drinks that are naturally caffeine-free, like herbal infusions, or lower in caffeine, such as the popular matcha green tea powder. It’s important to have these on offer.”

Whether a builder’s brew or a fruity infusion is chosen, Kingston says offering a great, highly functional takeaway cup to clients can also boost sales.

“The Tetley cups have been designed to reduce fuss, spillages and mess, which are some of the most common tea-to-go complaints,” he says. “The branded double-walled cups offer superior insulation, sip-lids and drip-free drawstring tea bags for on-the-go tea service.”

Plant milks

It’s not just tea where shoppers are being choosier stocking a variety of milk is also a must.

Vicky Bhattu, marketing director at Alpro, says plant-based products present a growing opportunity for wholesalers to build sales among foodservice and retail customers.

“The plant-based sector has catapulted into the mainstream, with retail sales now reaching £360.5m and one in three households buying plant-based food and drink products,” says Bhattu. “Almost two thirds of consumers say it’s important to them that their coffee shop offers more than one plant-based option.”

The variety on offer is expanding all the time. Plant-based milks have been dominated by soya offerings for years, but today’s consumers are increasingly opting for other plant-derived milks, including those made from oat, coconut, almond and rice.

It’s worth flagging up to customers that these products are versatile, and can be used in breakfast solutions, too.

“More people are using plant-based products as key ingredients in making anything from porridge and hot drinks, to cooked breakfast items like scrambled eggs, as well as smoothies and cereals,” explains Bhattu.

Retailer viewpoints

Dave Hiscutt
Dave Hiscutt, Londis Westham Road, Weymouth, Dorset

“Our early morning customers are often builders who are looking for warming, filling food, so there is always demand for bacon rolls and sausage rolls. We are also getting
more office workers coming in who want lighter things, so we’re going to start making our own yoghurt and granola pots.”

Scott Graham
Scott Graham, McLeish, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire

“There’s a large number of coffee shops and supermarkets in our local area, so we have to price very competitively to keep sales strong. We use a Tchibo machine for our coffee and go below RRP. People are increasingly choosing to include add-ons such as syrups to their hot drinks, so we need to keep on top of these.”

Kamal Thaker
Kamal Thaker, One Stop News, Edgware, London

“I use a Nescafé & Go hot drinks machine to meet customer demand for a to-go drinks option in my store. It paid itself back really quickly and is now another revenue stream for us. All the drinks are Nescafé-branded, and the prices are low, at £1.20 to £1.50.”

Robert Kirkwood
Robert Kirkwood, The Corner Shop, Crossgates, Fife

“We’re a very small store, so people are coming for the essentials. We don’t stock a wide range of breakfast goods and teas and coffees – we stick to a core range of price-marked, branded goods. However, we are looking at bringing in some new teas by a local independent manufacturer.”

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