It's as important to keep up with breakfast trends with the current morning appetite
Much like the honey monster in the Sugar Puffs advert of the late 1980s, breakfast is bursting out from the narrow confines of its pyjamas.
Breakfast and brunch, its tardier cousin, are now eaten at any time of the morning in cafés, pubs and fast-food outlets. Out-of-home menus along with grab-and-go options have evolved, featuring anything from crumpets with coffee syrup to tofu scramble. Many items not traditionally associated with mornings have also crept onto the line-up, with cocktails, Prosecco, potato wedges, doughnuts and burritos now frequently appearing on menus alongside traditional breakfast fare.
As customers are increasingly spoilt for choice, hospitality providers face the challenge of making their breakfast offering a crowd-pleasing and profitable offer. The good news is that the data indicates there is still further customer spend to go after.
According to the UK Breakfast Eating Habits Market Report 2022 from Mintel, 51% of adults ate breakfast out of home in early 2022. This figure is expected to continue to rise, as more employees return to the office. The report also highlights opportunities for home delivery. Further to this, the average spend on breakfast food and beverage increased 16% to £8.33 in the 12 weeks to 19 February in 2023, when compared to the average spend in 2022 (Lumina Intelligence EDOP).
Workplace catering company BaxterStorey has seen a significant jump in breakfast sales, with director of food Greg Bramwell reporting a 20% increase over the past 12 months. Bramwell also notes a growing trend for the later breakfast out of home as workday models evolve post-pandemic.
Working breakfasts and weekend brunches
Suppliers report that in 2023 there are two distinct out-of-home breakfast missions to cater for: the working day breakfast and the weekend breakfast or brunch.
Supplier Délifrance explored the market for its Breakfast Report in May 2022. Marketing director Stéphanie Brillouet says: "We know from our research that more people choose to eat indulgent food at the weekend, with one in four wanting to treat themselves to favourites such as a cooked breakfast, pancakes or waffles and pastries. Whereas in the week, we know that less than one in 10 treat themselves and are much more influenced by convenience (42%) and health (30%), leading them to eat toast, cereal, granola or porridge."
The full English continues to claim top spot as the UK's favourite hot breakfast in surveys, says Karen Heavey, brand manager for Kerrymaid. "In a similar vein, when we speak to chefs and venues, we also find that toasted options are consistently popular for those with limited time, even if they might not be the flashiest serve on the menu," she adds.
However, cereal still has 60% of the breakfast category, significantly more than the next closest player, bread. David Bone, foodservice channel manager at Weetabix, says: "Cereal offers great value for money, and we know that is a key priority for customers and consumers alike. Cereal has been shown to perform well through recession as a low-cost, healthy offering with price per serve as low as 22p."
And don't forget fruit. Andrew Bradshaw, UK sales director at Dole Sunshine Company, references the latest data from Mintel (2022), indicating that fruit is the fourth most popular food to be eaten at breakfast after cereal, baked goods and porridge.
Macro trends in breakfast food
Suppliers highlight the fact that "macro" food trends, primarily healthy eating, special diets, sustainability and provenance, are guiding consumers in their breakfast food choices.
"Health is a key driver for egg consumption, with many people seeking healthier breakfast options," says Andrew Joret, British Egg Industry Council chairman. "Eggs are a fundamental element of any breakfast menu. Responsible businesses should source British Lion eggs to ensure they're selling and serving safe eggs produced to the highest food safety standards."
There is increasing awareness of healthier lifestyles with a focus on gut health and eating 30 plants a week, says Greg Bramwell. BaxterStorey is championing ingredients such as mushrooms, which are known for having a lower carbon footprint and are full of nutritional value.
Sustainable swaps help drive a planet-friendly move towards ingredients from Europe rather than air-freighted food from further afield, comments Lara Bicknell, head of sales at Creed Foodservice. "Smashed peas are a good alternative to smashed avocados, and when prepared well offer a similar look and texture," she suggests.
With demand for plant-based options rising, supplier Délifrance has introduced a vegan viennoiserie range: "Meat-free diners are demanding better choices on menus, that are protein-packed without comprising on taste or the wellbeing of the planet," says Phil Thornborrow, foodservice director at Quorn Foods.
Dishes like burritos or eggs Benedict, which aren't as easy to replicate at home, hold an appeal to eat-in breakfast and brunch consumers, particularly at the weekend, Heavey says.
The beverages accompanying these meals can also serve as a pulling factor. Samantha Winsor, marketing manager at Lantmännen Unibake UK, says hot drinks tend to be promoted with breakfast items during the week, so why not consider switching this up at the weekend with a brunch meal deal? Look to pair popular brunch items such as Danish pastries with premium coffees, fruit juices or, for an added level of indulgence, a bottle of Prosecco.
Global breakfast inspiration
Erwan Inizan, Northern Europe sales director at Bridor, said menus are also embracing global inspirations. Bridor has introduced its new Panidor range, which includes traditional pastel de nata, bolas de berlim – the Portuguese version of the famous Austro-German Berliner or doughnut – plus a selection of four mini bread rolls, all made in Portugal.
Olivier Briault, development chef at Maple from Canada UK, says lighter grades of Canadian maple syrup work particularly well with breakfast dishes such as breakfast burritos, while the dark grade syrup works well in baked oats and granola, which should be made in large quantities to keep costs to a minimum.
There are many ways to uplift traditional offers, perhaps giving customers options to personalise their dish with toppings and different milk choices, says Bramwell.
BaxterStorey's ‘Down with the Crumpets' offers options from sausage meatballs and smoked bacon jam to blueberry compote and coffee syrup, while its ‘build-your-own mushroom toast' stations allow customers to customise breakfast. A menu with illustrated dishes helps consumers in making a decision and can highlight benefits such as reduced sugar content, says Paul Stanley, business development manager from Middleton Foods.
In the current economic climate affordability is on the minds of many, so to encourage purchase, consider starting a loyalty scheme, he suggests: "Breakfast is a great offering to kick-start such an initiative, and it ensures repeat, regular custom at your outlet too. Why not try it with an on-the-go breakfast offering?"
When it comes to success and profitability, equipment suppliers suggest service is as important an element as the breakfast menu itself. A speedy turnaround is essential, reducing queues, says Steve Hemsil, UK & Ireland sales director at Welbilt, tipping the Merrychef conneX® 12 and conneX® 16, which offer speeds up to 80% faster than other cooking methods.
Scott Duncan, managing director of Unox UK, recommends the Bakerlux Speed.Pro as the first speed baking oven and which is also designed to save kitchen space. "Operators need a solution that can deliver breakfast products with speed and efficiency without compromising on quality," he says.
Michael Eyre, product director at Jestic Foodservice Solutions, recommends the small footprint Antunes Egg Station, which cooks eggs in between 120 to 150 seconds.
While a lot has changed on breakfast menus in recent years, you won't go far wrong if your offer ticks the boxes for quality, price and efficient service – particularly if the meals look good enough to photograph as well as eat. But saddle up for further blurring of the mealtime boundaries ahead. Supplier Macphie has "noticed a genuine boom in the popularity of pizzas for breakfast", says Kirsty Matthews, insights and marketing manager. Breakfast pizzas currently feature on 2.9% of restaurant menus, a number that is predicted to soar to 15% in the next four years, she says.
Whether you decide to burst the final frontier of breakfast by introducing pizza or keep it old school with a few twists, as long as your customers keep coming back, you're onto a winner.
British Lion Eggs www.egginfo.co.uk
Creed Foodservice www.creedfoodservice.co.uk
Délifrance UK www.delifrance.com/uk
Lantmännen Unibake UK www.lantmannen-unibake.co.uk
Maple from Canada www.maplefromcanada.co.uk
Middleton Foods www.middletonfoods.com
Quorn Professionals www.quornfoodservice.co.uk
Unox UK www.unox.com/en_gb/