By Laura McGuire and Aaron Jourden
Opportunities for operators to boost traffic at breakfast are expanding. Growing consumer interest in around-the-clock foodservice options, as well as a greater emphasis on convenience and better-for-you attributes in the morning are leading to some breakfast movements gaining greater traction.
Here’s a look at three trends operators can incorporate into menu development to appeal to consumers and boost business around breakfast.
Differentiating with all-day breakfast
Seventy-eight per cent of Gen Zers (born between 1996 and 2010) say they enjoy breakfast foods at nontraditional times, according to Technomic data. To take advantage of younger consumers’ high level of interest in anytime breakfast, operators are increasingly offering morning fare beyond early hours. This includes making more breakfast options available on lunch and dinner menus as well as for daytime and late-night snacking occasions.
McDonald’s All Day Breakfast platform has helped the chain turn around same-store sales and solidify positive momentum in the United States. Now the chain has brought the much-hyped program to locations across Canada, where diners can find a selection of McMuffin sandwiches, hotcakes and hash browns at any time of day.
Not to be outdone, A&W also launched an all-day breakfast program earlier this year that focuses on handhelds like egg sandwiches and breakfast wraps complemented by hash browns and coffee. A&W says the expanded availability of breakfast beyond morning hours has resonated with Millennials in particular. The company has cited all-day breakfast as one of the growth opportunities it’s pursuing to boost overall sales.
All-day breakfast innovation can lend itself to traditional morning options appearing on later daypart menus, such as is the case with McDonald’s and A&W’s programs, or it can involve adding breakfast twists to standard lunch and dinner fare, such as a burger topped with eggs, bacon and gravy. Mini versions of breakfast items (e.g., breakfast sliders, pancake balls, etc.) can fit the bill for between-meal snacking occasions.
Breakfast sandwiches check all the boxes
Breakfast sandwiches are on the rise, growing 10 per cent in menu incidence over a five-year period, according to Technomic research. Breakfast sandwiches hold appeal in the morning because these items satisfy several attributes that consumers seek for their first meal of the day. Craveability is cited as the top reason consumers select a breakfast sandwich over other breakfast items during foodservice occasions. These handhelds typically consist of a variety of indulgent and comforting ingredients, like bacon, eggs, sausage and cheese, piled together for a filling on-the-go meal option.
Convenience attributes like venue location and item portability are also key factors for away-from-home breakfast sandwich purchases. Breakfast sandwiches can be found in a wide array of foodservice establishments, from restaurants and hotels to convenience stores and universities, which makes them highly accessible to a broad range of consumers. For instance, Depanneur Le Pick Up, an independent convenience store in Montreal, specializes in scratch-made morning fare such as a breakfast sandwich with egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.
Breakfast sandwiches are also extremely adaptable and can highlight a variety of cheeses, condiments, sauces, proteins, veggies and bread bases. In fact, the leading breakfast sandwich breads range from more traditional bases such as bagels and English muffins, to ethnic-inspired options such as tortillas, to playful mashups like doughnut sandwiches, to higher-quality specialty bread options like ciabatta.
Meatless ingredients fuel breakfast innovation
Plant-based items at breakfast not only attract vegans and vegetarians but also “flexitarians” who avoid meat on occasion for health or environmental concerns. And while other trends that address dietary concerns like gluten-free peak and recede, Technomic’s MenuMonitor data shows that plant-based dishes are proving more lasting. In fact, mentions of “vegetarian” on Canadian menus grew 7.2 per cent over the past two years and 24.5 per cent over the past year.
A challenge for operators executing this trend is to feature these items in approachable, flavourful and craveable formats. Tried-and-true plant proteins like beans and grains have the consumer appeal of being familiar and filling. Vancouver’s Bandidas Taqueria menus a Mexican Breakfast that substitutes pinto beans for meat, along with free-range eggs, apple salsa, purple cabbage, guacamole and two handmade corn tortillas.
Tofu and soy substitutes are also growing more popular as replacements for traditional breakfast proteins. These ingredients often mirror the flavours, textures and even look of items such as bacon, sausage and eggs. For instance, The Harvest Room restaurant in Edmonton’s Fairmont Hotel MacDonald serves a Tofu Scrambler that spotlights scrambled tofu in place of eggs, served with veggies and a pureed black bean drizzle. The milder flavour and flexibility of these plant proteins also make them an easy compliment for bolder and ethnic ingredients, such as those found in Mediterranean, Latin and Asian cuisines.
These breakfast trends have strong growth opportunity and far to go before they peak. Menuing breakfast options throughout the day, as well as varieties of breakfast sandwiches and meatless options will appeal to consumers’ current wants in the morning while helping build a modern perception of operators’ menus.
About the authors:
Laura McGuire is Content Director and Aaron Jourden is Managing Editor, Global Content, at Technomic. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry. Visit www.technomic.com.