Toby Hill offers advice to wholesalers on how best to capitalise on the ever-changing and varied breakfast category
Breakfast is big business, with UK customers consuming vast mountains of croissants and huge lakes of coffee every morning. But for wholesalers, selecting the right stock can be a challenge, with such a wide range of products to choose between and trends changing quickly.
In this guide, we break down the sprawling breakfast category into a few clear areas – on-the-go, eating at home and foodservice – to help wholesalers get up to speed on the most important meal of the day.
For convenience wholesale customers, the biggest breakfast opportunity lies in on-the-go solutions, as harried customers grab something from their local store before hurrying to work.
Indeed, on-the-go breakfast occasions grew by 9.5% in 2018, according to Kantar statistics, with expansion driven by the 16-to-34-year-old demographic.
Many of the most popular on-the-go breakfast items come from the continent, with Viennoiserie and French-style bakery products continuing to grow in popularity. (Kantar statistics show 1.4% growth in Viennoiserie pastries last year, with croissants growing at 13.4%).
French bakery company Brioche Pasquier has led the way in bringing continental pastries to UK convenience stores, and its individually wrapped Pain au Chocolat, and packs of Brioche Rolls with Chocolate Chips, offer an easy on-the-go solution.
Alternatively, Manchester-based bakery St Pierre Group offers croissants alongside innovations such as Vanilla Brioche Swirls and Caramel Waffles.
Another way to easily eat breakfast on the move is to start the day with a nutrition-packed drink. Weetabix has pioneered the category of breakfast drinks over the past few years with its Weetabix On the Go range, now worth £18m. Available in both Original and Protein varieties, it’s by far the biggest brand in the category, and can be stocked in chilled and ambient spaces.
While croissants remain hugely popular, many people are now looking for a healthier breakfast, so wholesalers should make sure they have options to meet that demand.
One possibility that combines convenience and health is Belvita, Mondelez’s decade-old brand that dominates the UK’s £82m breakfast biscuit market, which launched a new line last summer to meet demand for healthier products. Belvita Seeds & Berries comes in two flavours: Raspberry & Chia Seeds and Blueberry & Flax Seeds.
The confectionery giant also recently launched its first-ever reduced-sugar Belvita variant. For those looking to start the day with an energy boost, Mondelez’s Brunch Bar recently launched two protein lines: Cadbury Brunch Bar Peanut Protein and Cranberry & Nuts Protein.
“Breakfast biscuits are key for the morning – there are more than 260 million breakfasts eaten in the UK every week, and 19% of consumers regularly eat biscuits for breakfast,” says Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelez International.
Also dovetailing nicely with trends towards healthier eating are B’Break Superfoods, a range of new 70g snacking rolls from British firm Bridor. These combine healthy ingredients such as nuts, fruit and grains into a convenient breakfast bar, with flavours including Apricot, Pistachio & Spelt and Fig, Almond & Buckwheat.
Indulgently eating at home
While on-the-go breakfast buying from convenience stores has increased, this hasn’t been at the expense of breakfasts being prepared at home. Indeed, with awareness of the importance of healthy eating at a high, more people are putting time and thought into starting the day with a nutritious meal.
“An increasing number of Brits are still choosing to consume their first meal of the day at home up to six days a week, amounting to a huge 19.3 billion occasions,” says Darryl Burgess, head of sales at Weetabix.
At the heart of many British breakfasts is bread, and St Pierre Group has a range of rye and seeded loaves under its Baker Street brand to suit the increasing number of people looking for a healthier alternative to sliced white. Its bestsellers are Sliced Seeded Rye and Rye & Wheat. Stocking the firm’s Baker Street Deli Rolls, available in Multi-Seed and Chia, will ensure those who want a roll with their breakfast are also catered for.
Retailers will also be looking to offer quality sweet options that their customers can consume at home. UK food importer RH Amar has a range of continental treats that have sold well in giants like Waitrose and Morrisons and are now available to wholesalers, such as its Traditional Belgian Sugar Waffles and Traditional Belgian Chocolate Waffles.
“With strong value sales of £33.4m, up by 19% year on year and ahead of volume growth of 11%, waffles are offering retailers an increasingly good profit opportunity, with unit prices up 7% in the last year,” says Anne-Marie Cannon, senior brand manager at the firm.
Catering to the on-trade
Wholesalers don’t want to neglect the on-trade, with a 2018 report from Travelodge finding two-thirds of Brits eat breakfast out at least twice a month. “With this in mind, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to how wholesalers can support foodservice outlets with their breakfast, brunch and all-day breakfast options,” says Gordon Lauder, managing director at foodservice specialist Central Foods.
Lauder adds that trends towards veganism have reshaped demand from his customers in recent years. “It’s important to cater for vegan customers on any breakfast or brunch menu,” he says. One straightforward solution launched by the company in 2018 is its Vegan American Pancakes line, which has an unfrozen shelf-life of two days.
Ultimately, though, the type of products foodservice operators are looking for will vary substantially by region, so it’s worth talking to foodservice customers in depot to find out the kind of things they’re looking for.
Finally, no breakfast menu would be complete without coffee, so it’s worth taking a moment to trace trends in the coffee category.
One key development in the past year has been the growth of ‘instant speciality’, according to Martin Bell, marketing manager at Jacobs Douwe Egberts.
“Consumers are increasingly motivated to seek out a luxurious, quality experience and, for the first time, ‘indulgence’ has overtaken ‘functionality’ when it comes to coffee consumption,” Bell says, citing research by Kantar.
“This has led to the development of a fast-growing category of ‘instant speciality’ coffees, combining the simplicity of instant coffee with the indulgence of a latte or a cappuccino.”
These products are particularly well-suited to the on-trade, Bell adds, suggesting wholesalers try stocking Kenco Specialities’ new 750g tin format to support on-trade businesses without the time or space for a machine.