Wake up call

20/02/2014 - 13:56
Breakfast has become a lucrative option for cafés and coffee shops, but how can operators improve their offer. Sheila Eggleston reports

Breakfast is big business for café and grab and go outlets, and many operators are capitalising on the boom with offers and new products.

Chains such as Costa Coffee, for example, kicked the year off by promoting its ‘Breakfast Heaven Before Eleven’ offer, which gives its Coffee Club card members the chance to purchase breakfast for £1, while Just Falafel says it spotted a gap in the market for a tasty vegetarian range, so recently introduced a falafel-based breakfast menu for its outlets.

The latter claims it’s a first for the UK food-to-go market and key to the new menu is the ‘breakfast falafel’, a falafel and potato mixture similar in texture to a hash brown created by chef and culinary operations director Gerard Murphy. The rest of the vegetarian menu comprises a falafel muffin and bran muffin, hot falafel bites served with a breakfast dip, wraps, fritters, porridge and Greek-style yogurt.

However, suppliers believe more can be done to boost menus. Potato specialist Aviko says that compared to North America (20%) and other European countries (25%) the UK has barely scratched the surface when it comes to breakfast. “There’s a huge opportunity for caterers that get their morning service right,” comments general manager Mohammed Essa.

Aviko’s research shows that hash browns are now the third biggest breakfast item, being eaten on 7.3% occasions. Only eggs (12.5%) and baked beans (8.5%) take a greater share in the morning meal stakes. With Mintel reporting that customers are as likely to order breakfast to take away as they are to eat in, major high street players such as McDonald’s have carved a breakfast niche by making hash browns an integral part of their morning service.

“Our hash browns are essential and versatile items for caterers that want to develop and profit from their breakfast offer in a market that clearly has a lot of growth potential left in it,” says Essa. “Operators can serve them as part of a traditional fry-up or upsell them as part of an add-on option to a bacon or sausage bap, which can help increase revenue per ticket by as much as 30%.”
Dave Edwards, head of sales for tortilla specialist Mission Foodservice, says data from Horizons indicates that the breakfast occasion is in double-digit growth and the value of the market stands at £3.2bn, growing at 13.6%.

“Traditional full English breakfast is still a popular choice, but many who eat breakfast out of home are looking for a quick and convenient solution,” says Edwards. “Tortilla wraps make a great alternative carrier to bread, and consumers can choose from fillings such as bacon, cheese, sausage, hash brown, onion, mushroom and tomato. Making wraps to order ensures all ingredients are fresh and this could be a real selling point with customers.

“Outlets can promote breakfast through social media, menu boards, table talkers, meal deals or even running a competition. Operators could ask customers to come up with suggestions for wrap fillings, the best dish would be included on the menu and the winner could receive vouchers. This will generate excitement around the breakfast offering and drive footfall.”

Fiona Morgan, foodservice sector manager for new business development at Ferrero UK, says 25% of consumers are eating breakfast out of home at least once a week, and it is no longer restricted to morning dining.

“Three out of 10 consumers polled by Technomic claim to eat brunch out of home every week, giving outlets the opportunity to serve breakfast products all-day,” she explains. “This is particularly important for cafés and coffee shops.

“These outlets must promote breakfast offers by utilising their display space; for example, presenting Nutella 15g portions in Ferrero’s specially designed countertop unit will improve the overall visual appeal of stocking the spread. Product display is vital when offering grab-and-go items and can increase sales as much as 20%.”

Morgan says latest data from NPD Crest UK indicates that the breakfast occasion in the quick service sector grew by 10.5% last year to £553m. “Quick service outlets are driving growth in this category, however, this has created a gap for fast-casual outlets to take advantage of breakfast service and reap the rewards,” she adds.

She says to maximise the potential of a morning service, operators must cater for the ‘millennial’ consumers, identified by consumer trends specialist The Future Laboratory as a key market. “Aged between 13 and 33, they represent the largest generation of consumers today,” explains Morgan. “They are brand savvy, time-deficient and have an estimated spending power of £125bn.

“Food and drink offers must reflect the demands of this key demographic to capitalise on the rapidly growing trend of eating breakfast out of home. This influential generation are seeking brands they recognise and trust.”

She believes Nutella offers caterers the perfect solution, as it is fulfils millennial demands for quick, reliable and recognisable food, which can be consumed by those skipping breakfast at home and buying food-to-go.

Adrian Coulter, development chef for Kerrymaid, says that consumers’ busy lifestyles are driving this trend for takeaway breakfasts, and that operators would benefit by offering a loyalty scheme.
“Discount vouchers that offer money-off breakfast the following day can be given out with lunchtime or afternoon sales,” he explains. “Promotions such as a free coffee, tea or juice with breakfast can also work well.”

He adds that Kerrymaid mini portions of buttery spread can easily be slipped into a takeaway bag alongside toast or a croissant, which is ideal for eating on the go as they are not as messy as foil butter portions.

Country Choice marketing manager Billy McCrindle says a cooked breakfast is the preferred option for more than 40% of out of home diners, while a hot roll is the choice of around 30%.

“Although these are the top two by some distance, a variety of alternatives are also enjoyed, he adds. “Viennoiserie sales are up 8% year on year; demand for continental pastries is contributing to this so a croissant, pain au chocolat and another sweet pastry have become expected for breakfast. They are also good on-the-go products and often go with hot drinks so can help boost coffee sales.
“Although still niche, a number of caterers are now offering porridge-to-go. Cereals, although popular, are difficult to deliver in an on-the-go format.”

He says breakfast products should be highlighted at the front of outlets to communicate that a breakfast offer is available. Meal deals were also important such as a breakfast meal deal incorporating a breakfast bap (£1.89) and coffee (£1.50) rounded up to cost £3.

Mondelez International says that research shows more than 82% of caterers agree there is a growing demand for healthier on-the-go products, while 53% believe that breakfast snack consumption is increasing, and 41% already offer biscuits as an option for breakfast.

The company claims its Belvita Breakfast biscuit has revolutionised the healthy biscuits category, by giving consumers a tasty alternative on-the-go breakfast. The biscuits are available in milk and cereal, and yogurt crunch variants.

John Sutcliffe, out of home and convenience controller at Taylors of Harrogate, says that as the growth stats suggest, there is money to be made from the breakfast market, but it’s not just about food.

“When it comes to breakfast, the importance and profitability of hot drinks shouldn’t be underestimated,” he explains. “Hot drinks are a great way of getting customers to trade up to a breakfast bap or pastry and, when you consider the profit margins involved, tea and coffee offerings should be considered just as carefully.”

He says Yorkshire Tea offers customers a proper brew and, as Taylors blend for hard water, this tea is suitable for those areas affected by it. It also has speciality tea for breakfast menus such as English breakfast, Earl Grey, peppermint and green tea.

“For coffee, kick-start customers’ mornings in style with Hot Lava Java – a powerhouse blend with an intense caffeine kick, or serve our Take it Easy blend of regular and decaf inspired by New York delis,” he says. “Rich Italian and Lazy Sunday are the brand leaders in this category as well.”
Steph Goldie, brand manager for DaVinci Gourmet, adds that flavoured syrups and sauces can be used to create appealing and profitable drinks to takeaway or to drink in-house.

“Lattes now take up the largest share of the out-of-home coffee market, therefore operators should consider pairing these drinks with suitable food,” she says. “A vanilla latte works well with cinnamon pastries, while a caramel latte is surprisingly tasty with a bacon sandwich.”

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