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Bright signs for a bright start

The breakfast daypart is revved up and raring to go—just like those eaters who begin their day with an energizing morning meal. While lunch and dinner business kind of languished over the past couple of years, breakfast was revitalizing and expanding—expanding in number of menu items, venues serving breakfast and hours of service. Although morning traffic to restaurants slumped a bit during the recession, “breakfast sales are expected to grow to $38 billion in 2011,” states Packaged Facts, a market research company.

Yet when the research was done, only 34 percent of restaurant goers had eaten breakfast away from home. This gives the industry a big opportunity to entice the more then 150 million adults who do not regularly eat a restaurant breakfast. What should you be including in your inventory and menu to get these customers in the door? The Top 10 Breakfast Trends outlined here will point you in the right direction. Then take a cue from some operators who are doing breakfast right.

Top 10 breakfast trends in 2011

In a consumer breakfast survey conducted by The Food Channel, in conjunction with CultureWaves, International Food Futurists and Mintel International, fully 95 percent of respondents viewed breakfast as very or somewhat important. About two thirds said they ate breakfast every day without fail and the same percentage said they eat breakfast at home, while nearly 25 percent eat breakfast at work. The ingredient eaten more often at breakfast than any other item: eggs (50 percent), with about 25 percent each saying they eat hot or cold cereal most frequently.

  1. Oatmeal in overdrive—oatmeal is becoming a real mainstream staple, even in QSRs. McDonald’s and Jamba Juice both introduced oatmeal to their breakfast menus in the past year.
  2. Fast foods battle over breakfast—the breakfast daypart has become the key battleground in the quickservice restaurant category.
  3. Chocolate for breakfast—with its healthful benefits, chocolate is being promoted as a breakfast product.
  4. Haute coffee comes home—to save money, caffeine-seekers are opting to brew their own coffee at home.
  5. Ethnic invasion—global influences start to creep into the morning meal.
  6. Beverage choice choke—breakfast drink menus keep expanding beyond coffee and O.J.
  7. Hot pizza in the A.M.—pizza is predicted to be one of the hottest menu items for breakfast.
  8. Breakfast ingredients all day long—breakfast ingredients work their way into other parts of the daily menu; restaurants in big cities are serving breakfast until at least 4 p.m. or all day long.
  9. The breakfast two-step—a pattern of people fueling up with caffeine and protein in two stages. First, comes the morning cup of coffee with a small muffin, slice of toast or  banana, followed by a mid-morning snack of yogurt, granola or a breakfast bar.
  10. Eggs crack the top 10—eggs to hatch a big comeback this year, thanks to revised nutritionals and a healthier profile, plus inspired preparations.


Breakfast on-the-go, Latin-style
Half Moon Empanadas

Miami, FL
2 locations + carts
In Argentina, empanadas are eaten only at night, claims Juan Zavala, but Americans crave these semi-circular stuffed pastries all day long. When Zavala opened Half Moon Empanadas in 2008, he focused on traditional fillings, such as corn, spicy beef and chicken with onions and peppers. Then in 2010, he added a roster of breakfast options to attract the morning crowd.

“I tweaked the fillings and played around with similar recipes to come up with several variations,” Zavala says. The breakfast empanadas—all priced at $2.19—include Steak & Egg; Pork & Egg; Ham, Egg & Cheese with or without salsa; and Bacon, Egg & Cheese with or without salsa. Two breakfast wraps are also available for $5.99 each: Steak & Egg and Ham & Cheese Omelet.

“We make the empanada dough in-house with an old-school dough roller from Argentina. That, and all the fillings are prepared out of our South Beach location and ready-made empanadas are transported to our second store and our cart in the American Airlines Arena,” he explains.

So far, breakfast has been a bonus for Half Moon. “Empanadas are portable, nutritious and retain heat well,” says Zavala. And for customers who eat breakfast as they drive, they’re neat to eat in the car, he adds. Next stop for Half Moon: the Doral Orlando convention center.

Morning mecca
Corner Bakery

Dallas, TX
119 locations
Breakfast has always been a strong part of the mix at this bakery café. But, “we got more serious about breakfast about 10 years ago,” reports Ric Scicchitano, Sr. VP of food and beverage. “We added more fruits, grains and egg dishes to the menu and began focusing on customization and portability.” The chain’s three Scramblers hit the first mark—all are solid sellers, says Scicchitano, and all can be customized. The Anaheim Scrambler tops all breakfast entrees; it features eggs scrambled with applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, green onions and cheddar cheese, sided with oven-roasted potatoes and toast.

Portable breakfast paninis are a favorite of “to-go” customers. The newest—a Chicken Apple Sausage Panini—includes a proprietary chicken and maple sausage, scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese grilled on sourdough bread. “We introduced chicken sausage to meet dietary concerns of our customers,” notes Scicchitano. Corner Bakery worked with Amy’s Sausage, a Chicago supplier, to develop the product according to size and flavor profile specs.

“Health is driving at least one in four new menu products,” Schicchitano adds. Other breakfast items with a healthy halo include Swiss Oatmeal—a combo of lowfat yogurt, rolled oats, toasted almonds and currants. And those who want breakfast any time of day can order it up—as long as the ingredients are available.


Egg prices on the rise
In 2011, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all food is projected to increase 3 to 4 percent—and eggs are no exception. Although food price inflation was relatively weak for most of 2009 and 2010, cost pressures due to higher food commodity and energy prices, along with strengthening global food demand, have pushed inflation projections for 2011 upward, states the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS).

The ERS reports that the April, 2011 CPI was 3.2 percent above the 2010 level. While the food-away-from-home index was up 0.3 percent, egg prices increased 0.7 percent, marking the first price increase in four months. Egg prices are trending 4.8 percent above the April 2010 level.

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