Why The Breakfast Daypart is Still a Key Growth Driver


We’ve all heard the adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But when life gets hectic, it’s often the most ignored one.

For many of us, breakfast means grabbing something quick, simple and convenient during the morning rush — or simply skipping the meal altogether.

Not surprisingly, foodservice operators have honed in on this dilemma. Over the last few years, there’s been significant innovation within the breakfast daypart — in many cases this means health-conscious, quick, convenient and affordable offerings.

According to NPD’s CREST foodservice-market research, breakfast traffic and consumer spending at breakfast have increased consistently over the last five years. In fact, consumer spending on breakfast this past quarter was the highest it has been since Q1 of 2016. This growth has been driven mainly by quick-service restaurants and casual-dining establishments. Operators have taken notice of the emerging popularity of breakfast and are now offering a variety of options to cater to time-strapped consumers. Furthermore, the last three quarters have shown an increase in average eater checks at breakfast after four quarters of steady declines in 2016 and 2017.

NPD data suggests that breakfast sandwiches are the top-growing food category across Canada. Consumption of breakfast sandwiches is up to 700 million annually in Canada, an eight-per-cent increase over last year, according to The NPD Group. Many QSR operators, such as Tim Hortons and McDonald’s, have contributed to this growth, as they’ve continuously introduced new breakfast sandwiches and innovative spin offs — including wraps, bagels and pastries.

Consumers are also showing a preference for “grab-and-go” at breakfast. Off-premise occasions have increased by seven per cent year-over-year, now making up 43 per cent of all breakfast occasions. Clearly this is another example of consumers taking advantage of innovative new products that are quick to prepare, easy-to-eat and budget friendly.

And, finally, no discussion around the breakfast daypart would be complete without first touching on the emergence of what might be the hottest new trend in foodservice — all-day breakfast. As we’ve seen over the last year, this is a trend that many operators have embraced. And, while it’s too early to determine how this trend will impact the industry overall, we’ve seen a tendency for consumers to turn to breakfast items more often as an afternoon snack or as a fourth meal during the day. How will the growth of this new expanded category impact other dayparts? Only time will tell. However, one thing is certain — the growth in breakfast and its overall popularity shows that operators are doing their best to cater to the emerging demands of consumers.

Story by Robert Carter

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