While the recession may well have curbed our spending habits in many areas, the breakfast out-of-home occasion has bucked the trend and now accounts for just under 20% of the total out-of-home eating visits (NPD Group)
Emma Read, director of marketing & business development, Horizons believes that the emergence of breakfast as an eating-out opportunity in the UK can be attributed to several factors: “First, we all have less time and food is more often eaten on the go, or bought to eat at your desk. Second, we are more used to food being bought outside the home as part of our everyday diet. It used to be a treat, but that treat has become a regular thing. Third, we have all experienced the European breakfast culture – coffee and a croissant in a local café. And fourth, while the recession has prompted us all to restrain our spending we still want to treat ourselves. Coffee and breakfast on the go helps fulfil this need.”
While Fielding agrees with Read’s rationale, he believes that the trend has also been operator led. “Some of the key foodservice operators are investing heavily in their breakfast offering, seeing it as an area of long-term growth and compensating for other day parts that have reached saturation,” he observes. “Interestingly, while under 18s account for 17% of total out-of-home visits they only account for 12% of breakfast visits – it is the 25-34 age group along with the 35-49 bracket that overtrade i.e. the working population. There is also quite a bias to male consumers who account for 56% of breakfast visits.”
What to offer
While the traditional fry-up is still very popular in many establishments, increasingly people who choose to eat their breakfast out of home are looking for options they perceive to be not only healthier but easier to eat either on the move or at their desk.
“Bacon is included in 25% of breakfast occasions and eggs, 17%,” says Fielding. “However, sweet bakery items such as muffins are becoming more popular, especially as we are using coffee shops more as a breakfast destination. Cereals in total are still underrepresented in this area being included in only 7.4% of occasions, although this is increasing year on year.”
Comparatively new breakfast offerings that have hit the ground running and have already very much made their presence felt are breakfast biscuits and granola slices, with the former being bought five times more often by women than by men, according to MMR Research Worldwide.
“The key drivers in the breakfast sector at the moment are health and enjoyment,” comments Clare Furlonger, marketing manager for Kellogg’s snacks. “We know granola is becoming a really fashionable breakfast choice so recently introduced our new granola slices to market. They are perfect for the impulse shopper, who has places to be, but is looking for a wholesome tasty breakfast to fuel their busy mornings.”
‘Fry-up’ on the go
With a quarter of all breakfast occasions still including bacon, but with breakfast increasingly being eaten on the move, canny operators embrace both factors and offer take-out bacon options. “Why not serve your breakfast in a wrap?” suggests Tony Goodger, BPEX. “Wraps are easy to prepare, tasty and simple to eat. What’s more, they are hugely versatile and can be filled with a combination of ingredients such as sausage or chorizo, ham, egg, beans and onions and served with a variety of sauces.”
43.5% of out-of-home bacon servings take place at breakfast. Pre-cooked bacon and sausages (simply heat in the microwave) mean that any establishment can benefit from the trend
According to Mintel, croissants and pains au chocolat remain the best sellers among out-of-home breakfast consumers. “The bread and baked goods market is worth £4.9bn and is expected to grow to £5.9bn over the next three years,” says Isabelle Davis, brand communications manager, Delice de France, which offers a wide variety of thaw-to-serve breakfast goods).
“Outlets of all sizes can really benefit from offering a strong range of breakfast goods, and these should therefore form a crucial part of your offering,” advises Davis. “However, with ‘special occasion’ and ‘experience’ now cited as the most popular reasons for eating out, operators are under pressure to ensure that they make more ‘functional’ meals such as breakfast and lunch an appealing out-of-home option for consumers.
“Value-added products are therefore crucial for an outlet’s breakfast offering, to create an experience that consumers feel they cannot recreate at home or in the office using retail products. It is also important that an outlet’s breakfast menu ticks the boxes when it comes to convenience.”
While the majority of breakfasts being eaten out of home are grabbed by time-poor commuters on their way to work, it is worth targeting other demographics if you want to make the most of this eating occasion.
“Outlets that already serve food and are weighing up the breakfast opportunity could consider offering breakfast as a way of attracting new customer groups such as those wishing to use the premises as an early morning meeting place – mother and baby groups, for example,” suggests Michelle Smith, brand manager, Heinz UK. “Similarly, weekends are crucial to the breakfast occasion, without the mid-week school run or commute to stop consumers taking their time over the first meal of the day.
“Whichever way you decide to go, be mindful that the competition is not just ‘at home’ breakfasts, but grocery multiples that have broadened their range of morning goods and hot sandwiches to appeal to the out-of-home breakfast eater.”