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Breakfast: A Bite of the Morning Meal

Concepts large and small are paying more attention to breakfast. There are even a few emerging chains—First Watch, Cereality and the Egg & I—dedicated exclusively to this daypart. Why now?

The following stats provide convincing reasons.

Breakfast accounted for almost 20 percent of restaurant sales in 2006, according to NPD Crest, which tracks the foodservice industry. The morning meal has grown an average of 3 percent each year over the last three years.

At limited-service restaurants, breakfast sales rose by 47 percent in the last five years, states Packaged Facts in its 2006 Breakfast in the Foodservice Market report.

Takeout breakfasts outnumber sit-down meals by 2:1, NPD discovered.

Besides QSRs, the segment that has seen the most breakfast activity is hotels, says Lynn Dornblaser, director of Mintel Custom Solutions.

“We see breakfast consumption increasing 10 percent in the future, with on-the-go breakfasts shaping and impacting that growth,” notes Eric Auciello, director of marketing research for Kellogg Specialty Channels. To capture a piece of the breakfast pie, purchase products and develop menu items that fit the trends.

Trends to watch

The $65 billion U.S. foodservice breakfast market is poised to grow, reports Packaged Facts, pointing out these trends:

Competitive QSRs are upgrading ingredients and beverages to attract breakfast business. Breakfast all day is likely to expand.

Bakery cafes are offering more variety and sophistication in both breakfast handhelds and beverages.

Beverages are booming, especially specialty coffees and teas, smoothies and drinkable meals.

Latin-flavor items are gaining ground, a result of increased Hispanic buying power and ageing Boomers looking for more assertive seasonings to wake up their taste buds.

In lodging foodservice, hotels are striving to differentiate the morning daypart by offering cooked-to-order complimentary breakfasts and “picnic” breakfasts packed to go.

Casual and fine dining are menuing creative, healthier options. Whole grains and vegetables are showing up more often.

Grab-and-go go go

Handheld menu items are a wise choice for operators who want to tap into the large pool of weekday morning customers. New products have recently been launched to woo breakfast eaters with diverse tastes. These include wraps, cereal-in-a-cup, breakfast pizzas, whole grain muffins and doughnuts, yogurt parfaits and smoothies.

Sara Lee introduced two items that offer easy eating with a twist. The first is Stuffins, a handheld wrap consisting of pancakes rolled around sweet or savory fillings. There are three egg-filled variations marketed under the Jimmy Dean brand and three with fruit fillings under the Sara Lee banner.

“In researching breakfast sandwiches, we asked consumers to name their preferred bread carrier and meat; pancakes and sausage topped the list,” says Mark DiDomenico, director of customer and consumer insights for Sara Lee Foodservice. “We also found that the priorities for breakfast on the go are tasty, protein-rich foods that provide sustenance.”

Straddling two big trends—steamy hot beverages and healthy smoothies—Sara Lee developed Superior Hot Breakfast Smoothies. The oatmeal-based products, available in flavors such as mixed berry and brown sugar cinnamon, are purchased as a powdered mix and prepared in an existing cappuccino machine. “There’s a good proportion of people who don’t drink coffee,” DiDomenico points out. “We came up with a hot option that provides extra nutrition.”

For the ultimate in commuter convenience, Krispy Kreme introduced a cup filled with doughnut holes that fits snugly into a car’s cup holder. “Customers are asking for items that are portable and offer portion control, and this product addresses those needs,” says Ashley Neighbors, director of marketing. Last summer, the company also test-marketed a multigrain doughnut made with seven grains and topped with oatmeal crisp crunch.

To feed the demand for healthy options, General Mills just introduced Yoplait ParfaitPro—a labor-saving product that dispenses yogurt in consistent, portion-controlled layers to create nutritious yogurt parfaits. According to NPD Crest, over 40 percent of yogurt in restaurants is served during the morning daypart and yogurt servings have grown 18 percent since 2006.

“The new packaging eliminates the need to wash scoops and rinse tubs—two chores when purchasing bulk yogurt,” says Amy Bunch, marketing manager for General Mills Foodservice. “Plus, a case of Yoplait ParfaitPro takes up the same amount of space as a bulk yogurt case but holds twice as much product.”



Q&A with Tony Walker, COO, Spicy Pickle
Denver, Colorado

This 35-unit fast-casual concept, specializing in paninis, thin-crust pizzas and salads, is testing a breakfast program in a few of its stores.

Why did you add breakfast to your lineup?
We wanted to expand to another daypart and we saw that breakfast was booming, so we figured, Why not go after it? It fit our business model and we didn’t have to stock up on a lot of inventory or purchase new equipment.

What are you serving?
Our customers are looking for something a little healthier and more contemporary than a breakfast burrito or greasy sandwich. So we’re starting with five breakfast paninis—combinations of eggs with cheese and either breakfast meats or roasted red peppers. We’ve also added muffins baked on premise, juices and good quality coffee. We’re not looking to compete with high-end coffee concepts, but we want our coffee to be on par with our food. Right now, we’re testing several suppliers, including Dunkin’ Donuts.

Do you have to source additional products for your breakfast program?
One of the reasons we moved into breakfast was because we already had many of the ingredients on hand…sausage from our pizzas, bread and cheeses from our sandwiches and roasted peppers from our salads. We had to add pasteurized liquid eggs and bacon to our order list.

Are you experimenting with any new breakfast items?
We find that people are drinking a lot of milk, so we’re trying out a milk-juice blend dispensed from the soft drink machine.

What are the essential components of a successful breakfast program?
Speed is the most important—people want to get in and out fast. Our paninis take 1 1⁄2 minutes to cook yet are a hot option. 

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