Catering for early birds: top breakfast trends

27 July 2016
Catering for early birds: top breakfast trends

Ignoring the morning trade? Anne Bruce discovers the top breakfast trends, so you know how to cater for early birds

In May, for the first time in its 100-year history, the Ivy in London started serving breakfast. The iconic West End restaurant's menu features the classics: eggs, pastries, porridge, homemade bread and waffles.

It is one of a catalogue of foodservice outlets jumping onto the breakfast bandwagon. Breakfast is currently the fastest-growing area of the food-to-go market.

Chef Anthony Marshall is well placed to comment on breakfast trends as executive chef of London's Park Lane Hilton. He says that "health" and clean living are priorities for guests at breakfast. Healthy options, such as the two types of porridge served at the hotel, and protein-based dishes such as egg white omelettes and poached eggs are all popular. The hotel also offers a range of milk alternatives as well as gluten-free products.

More exotic à la carte options, such as huevos rancheros (Mexican breakfast eggs) or chorizo scrambled eggs may be requested by diners, he says. And the Hilton also caters for its Chinese clients, with congee (Chinese porridge) on offer. Marshall says: "We can make anything that is requested. We do bento boxes, and we can also make a takeaway breakfast, such as breakfast burrito."

Whyte & Brown shakshuka

Emma Warrington, senior food buyer at purchasing company Beacon, says breakfast is the most important meal of the day for the foodservice industry, especially for hotels.

One emerging trend in breakfast is world flavours, from Mexican to Middle-Eastern, she says: "We're seeing a rise in dishes, such as huevos rancheros and breakfast tacos or chorizo omelettes and scrambled eggs, so foodservice operators should experiment with these to modernise their offering."

Provenance is important, especially with regard to sausages. Porridge bars, where consumers can customise a breakfast with fruit, nuts and seeds, are growing in popularity, along with yogurt and fruit bars. These concepts are favoured by consumers working in the B&I and healthcare sectors, she says.

Different bread-based carriers, such as wraps, sourdough, puccia, waffles, bagels and English muffins are also being used by operators to create a point of difference.

Mark Irish, Brakes' head of food development, says ethnic breakfast dishes, gluten-free brunches and healthier options are on the rise.

"Upmarket artisan toast, with homemade jams or manuka honey, is selling for £3.50 in some London outlets. Ethnic twists include the 'udon noodle' breakfast, a Japanese breakfast with mushroom, bacon and egg, or the full 'Spanglish', incorporating jamon, chorizo and morcilla. Baked eggs with various 'add-ons', such as chorizo and wild mushroom are popular."

Supplier Country Choice's research shows that most consumers want to eat on the go and a traditional breakfast format is becoming less popular, says Stephen Clifford, head of marketing. Consumers are keen to see breakfast deals, such as a bacon bap or croissant plus hot drink for a fixed 'round pound' price, he suggests. "'Round pound' meal deals simplify and speed up the transaction as well - important if customers are in a hurry."

Stephanie Hickford, customer marketing controller at Bidvest Foodservice, suggests that competitively pricing your menu against neighbouring businesses and noticing gaps in the market are keys to success. The perfect breakfast menu is a mix of traditional items and healthy options with on-trend ingredients thrown in, such as baked eggs in avocados and porridge with toppings, she says. Offering small and focused menus allows operators to refine dishes and cut down on food waste.

Natasha Quinn, foodservice channel operations manager at Ferrero, says research from Toluna November 2015 and Horizons October 2014 shows that although a cooked breakfast is the nation's favourite (29%), 21% of people start their day out of home with toast, followed by cold cereal (13%), pastries and continental breakfasts (both at 10%) and porridge (9%). "We are also seeing a rise of American-inspired dishes such as pancakes."

Ferrero American pancakes

Brakes pancakes

With fierce competition on the high street on-the-go arena, caterers have to offer variety and value at breakfast, she says.

Eimear Owens, country sales manager - UK & Ireland at Santa Maria Foodservice, adds that Mexican-inspired dishes are becoming more commonplace on breakfast menus.

And Lisa Boswell, CSM Bakery Solutions' trade marketing manager, says having the correct range of morning goods helps capture passing trade. "The type of products we eat first thing in the morning has changed dramatically, and in fact, the time at which we first eat in a day is also constantly expanding," she says.

Last July CSM carried out a Usage and Attitude Survey and found that 8% said they would buy muffins for breakfast and 45% would buy them mid-morning, capturing those who have skipped the traditional breakfast slot.

Jacqui Passmore, marketing manager UK and Ireland at Dawn Foods, says cookies are an increasingly popular breakfast choice. And 'healthier' cakes with whole- grain batter and fruit, seeds and nuts can also be sold at breakfast.

Farm Frites' marketing manager UK & Ireland, Nic Townsend, says the rise in food to go presents fast food and pub outlets with the challenge to remain relevant at breakfast. Breakfast and brunch footfall enables high-profit lines such as coffee and cake to be sold and acts as an advertisement for the rest of the food offering that is available.

Bestway Wholesale's Ron Hickey, catering and on-trade sales director, says the breakfast market is an opportunity to target new customers and expand sales.

"The best way to gauge the potential level of breakfast trade is simply to stand outside your business in the morning and see who walks past. For builders and contractors, you can offer a sit down full English with mugs of tea, and takeaway bacon rolls. Office workers can be tempted by speciality coffees and porridge pots, while toast and preserves and pastries can bring in the school-run trade. In all cases, clear pricing and set-price deals encourage customers."

Head of marketing and product development for Coup de Pates, the foodservice arm of Aryzta Food Solutions, Mariam French, warns that pubs and restaurants must offer the same quality and, crucially, variety found in the high street café sector.

She says: "In the wake of brunch we have seen the rise of 'brinner'; the consumer-led trend for enjoying breakfast items after 6pm. The Delaunay or the Wolseley serve eggs Benedict until midnight, and Duck and Waffle - which is open for 'brinner' 24 hours a day - has torn up the breakfast time rules, adding a glass of Prosecco for good measure."

This trend for 'breakfast on your terms' shows no sign of abating, says French. Once the sleepiest daypart in the foodservice industry, breakfast has woken up. And it's hungry.

High-end breakfast trends

"Baked eggs seem to be a continuing trend, with spicy chorizo, sriracha sauce or red chilli."

Pooja Sharma-Jones, sales and marketing director, Drake & Morgan group

"Our breakfast service has grown by 8-10 covers per day this year to date, equating to a £150 daily extra spend. We offer on-trend dishes such as avocado, chia and flax seeds and baked egg. I hope to see a rise of Mexican-inspired or Asian-influenced combinations. I also think breakfast deliveries will become increasingly popular."

Adam Varga, Eastway restaurant and wine lounge manager, Andaz London Liverpool Street

"Spices are increasingly being used in breakfast. Our new shakshuka (baked eggs, feta and avocado) are very popular, but our classic bacon and fried egg brioche bun remains our biggest seller - particularly for takeaway."

Karen Wood, operations director, Whyte & Brown

"Menus are trending towards Á la carte rather than buffets. Influences from the Mediterranean and the Far East are coexisting with the traditional British breakfast. Some of the recent breakfast offerings added to the Fairmont St Andrews breakfast include congee (Chinese porridge)."

Vidyadhar Patole, director of operations, Fairmont St Andrews

Santa Maria open breakfast tortilla

Breakfast stats

Britons spend £76m every day on going out for breakfast or brunch, with an average daily spend of £7.31 per person, according to a survey of 2,000 people conducted by purchasing services company Beacon in July 2015. One in three people eat the first meal of the day outside their homes at least once a week, while as many as 14% do so every day.

Breakfast is also seeing the largest growth in food to go (Food to Go: M&C Allegra Foodservice, November 2015), up 7% to 11.7 average visits per annum in 2015.

On the go habits

Packaging specialist HuhtamÁ¤ki's new research suggests that of consumers who buy breakfast to go:

  • 84% buy hot food
  • 53% buy breakfast to take away
  • 46% buy it 2-3 times a week
  • 63% buy it Monday to Friday
  • 79% also buy a drink
  • 60% said that they buy more food to go than they did three years ago

Atomik Research, January 2016



Bestway Wholesale

Bidvest Foodservice


Country Choice

Coup de Pates


Dawn Foods

Farm Frites


Santa Maria Foodservice

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking