Breakfast trends: Changing with the consumer

Over the last few decades, much research has been done on the true importance of eating breakfast. A 2012 study entitled, “The Benefits of Breakfast Consumption to Combat Obesity and Diabetes in Young People” found that the dietary habit of skipping breakfast was strongly associated with obesity. It reported that young people who habitually eat breakfast have a higher-quality diet, eat fewer unhealthy snacks and have better body weight management compared with those who skip breakfast. Yet in 2013, a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition disproved that eating breakfast and weight loss had any correlation. Despite many quarrels in the science world, consumers have chosen to find the importance in breakfast and are changing the way it is perceived.

Consumers want breakfast items that are convenient (fast and/or on-the-go), healthful (made with protein and more energy) and tasteful (they don’t want to sacrifice the flavors). In 2014, consumer preferences will drive the breakfast category.

Long-term gains of breakfast

Although the correlation between eating breakfast and losing weight remains unsolved, scientists have found that eating breakfast does, in the long run, help a person stay healthy. Additionally, breakfast consumers also exhibit better glucose control throughout the day compared with those who skip the morning meal. An associate professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing also found in 2013 that children who did not eat breakfast had an overall IQ score 4.6 points lower than those children who ate breakfast regularly.

Changing with the consumer

According to Mintel, the U.S. breakfast foods category is set to increase 26 percent between 2012 and 2017. Consumers have noticed the importance of breakfast and have appealed for convenient, healthful and tasteful products to start their day. A 2013 study done by Technomic reported that 20 percent of consumers are eating breakfast away from home more often than they did a year ago. In addition, more than half of consumers surveyed by Mintel said that convenience was an important factor when eating away from home.

Open-ended data also shows that many consumers want more healthful breakfast options; 63 percent of consumers feel it is unhealthy to skip breakfast. To that end, in 2014, consumers will look to add more protein to their first meal with eggs, meats and Greek yogurt in order to tailor to their preference of convenient, health and taste. Consumers will also look towards breakfast foods that are portable such as wraps, granola bars and breakfast sandwiches.

Consumer preferences have given way to foodservice operations applying traditional breakfast flavors to non-breakfast foods. Restaurants have begun pairing ethnic-inspired breakfast items such as chorizo and scrambled eggs. Technomic found that breakfast customers place a high importance on value menus and portability.

The takeaway

The upcoming year will be a test to those in the foodservice industry showing whether or not they can provide the breakfast options consumers prefer. Consumers are focusing on the long-term benefits of eating breakfast and looking for selections that are convenient, healthy and tasteful. Offering protein, ethnic-inspired and portable breakfast options will be key to keeping up with breakfast trends in 2014.