Breakfast - Bending The Rules

10/08/2017 - 16:04
The blurring of meal occasions is seeing brunch and all day breakfast as the norm, which offers a great opportunity for a menu makeover. Sheila Eggleston reports on the trends.

Today, the beauty of breakfast is it has become an ‘anytime, anywhere, anyhow’ meal, whereby savvy operators can serve an instantly satisfying ‘brekkie’, which according to analysts and suppliers is the one meal occasion they shouldn’t ignore.

NPD Crest’s research, for instance, shows that breakfast occasions are up 8.4% to 1.14 billion year-on-year.

However, new research into consumers’ spending habits by buying group Beacon Purchasing reveals that just 4% of consumers would eat breakfast out of home daily now, compared to 15% in 2015, and, while average spend has increased by 31% to £10.09, the drop in frequency has led to a fall in the estimated daily spend, which was £76m in 2015 compared to £20m now.

Managing director Paul Connelly says the figures show a behaviour change at breakfast, where people are spending more, but eating out less, and highlights the potential impact that inflationary pressures are having on the industry.

Beacon reveals it received many price rise notifications from its suppliers at the start of the year, a 267% increase on the same period last year. Those specifically hitting breakfast menus are bacon, fresh produce and coffee.

Innovation helps ease the problem as consumers are drawn to new and unusual ideas, like American-inspired breakfast bombs, superfood ingredients or on-trend food to go.

Duncan Parsonage, head of food development at Fresh Direct, says that ‘power juices’ and smoothies fortified with quinoa and chia are feel good solutions, while high protein and gluten-free breakfasts are still popular for many.

“Poached egg on avocado or even crushed peas and kale is still in vogue, while eggs Benedict has seen many reinventions, even a crumbed chicken schnitzel version,” he comments.

Parsonage says consumers have also adopted the American way, with buttermilk pancakes, maple syrup waffles, hash browns and corned beef hash becoming brunch menu staples.

“Operators can make menus stand out with specific terminology,” he adds. ‘Crispy’, ‘fried’, ‘charred’, and ‘sticky’ are great examples.”

At this year’s Casual Dining Show, Kerry Foodservice brought its key brands together under the ‘Circa Eleven’ banner to recognise the growth of brunch. Kerry claims breakfast and brunch are growing faster than other meal occasions – up 5% compared to +2% lunch and +3.5% dinner during the week.

Aine Melichar, brand manager for Kerrymaid, says avocado, quinoa, beetroot, turkey and falafel are making their way into dishes. “Breakfast burritos, bagels and toasted sandwiches are popular, as they are easy to customise and eat on the move,” she adds.

Lamb Weston’s ‘The Future of Breakfast Insight Report 2017’ reveals that 2.6 million adults are now eating breakfast out of home between 10am and 12pm.

Nigel Phillips, country sales manager UK & Ireland, says that operators can capitalise by offering ‘trade up’ options such as switching from toast soldiers to hash brown soldiers with boiled eggs. “Or offer a ‘build-your-own breakfast’ where customers can adapt dishes to suit them,” he adds.

Aviko general manager UK & Ireland, Mohammed Essa, echoes this view and says customisation is important, and introducing twists on traditional favourites is key to attracting consumers, such as its gluten-free mini hash brown bites.

“Around 90% would like the opportunity to customise their breakfast,” advises Essa. “Offering pick ‘n’ mix options gives customers the freedom to choose their favourite items, while offering a free drink with breakfast adds value at little cost to operators.”

New from Tetley is a Breakfast Guide that offers an insight into the breakfast market, advice from leading sector professionals and recipes. The latter are inspired by current trends such as a Middle Eastern speciality, shakshuka skillet, recommended for cafés, and all are paired with specific tea blends to complement the ingredients.

Huhtamaki’s research into food to go consumption shows that 43% of consumers opt to eat breakfast on the go. “IGD Retail Analysis May 2017 also reveals that Greggs, Costa and Starbucks are driving breakfast menus via hot options such as bacon rolls with a hot drink for a discounted price,” says UK marketing manager Becci Eplett. “Bakery items are still one of the most popular choices with consumers who bought breakfast ‘to go’ in our research.”

This is also the view of Samantha Winsor, assistant brand manager at Lantmännen Unibake UK, who says that 26% of consumers have pastries for breakfast out of home, rising to 35% of 16-24s, while only 13% eat them at home.

Simon Cannell, managing director at Speciality Breads, claims brunch is one of the coolest weekend meals and one involving groups, so operators can generate sales if they upsell. “This could be attentive staff or bottomless – aka boozy – brunches,” he says.

Recently the company teamed with chef Lesley Water who created a dish using its multigrain cottage roll. “The roll was hollowed out and filled with an egg, which made for a lighter eating dish,” says Cannell. “It’s not always about healthy options but often about offering something tasty but slightly less filling than a traditional English breakfast.”

Uber food to go

Food to go is a win-win deal for all operators catering for breakfast and brunch, and, according to Mark Irish, head of food development at food distributor Brakes, porridge has become “uber trendy” with a raft of different options, while breakfast pots and granola are other big growth areas.

“As the breakfast occasion develops, it is the more imaginative caterers who are winning big,” comments Irish. “Freshly cooked hot breakfast pots are on the rise with smoked salmon and avocado alongside traditional ingredients such as bacon and eggs. Healthier options would include plain Greek yogurt served with different toppings, fruit compotes, and cereals topped with dried fruit.”

“All this points towards the general trend for premiumisation with consumers happy to spend if they are getting value for money.”

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