Breakfast is back — at least more breakfasts at home.
For this shift in consumer eating patterns, we have the coronavirus to thank. According to “COVID-19: Reinventing How America Eats,” a report released in September by Jacksonville, Fla.-based sales and marketing agency Acosta, 55% of U.S. shoppers are eating at home more often since the pandemic began, with 44% of them eating breakfast at home every day, versus 33% before the pandemic. What’s more, even after the current situation has passed, a sizable 47% of shoppers plan to eat breakfast out less often or not at all.
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- The coronavirus has prompted more people to prepare and eat breakfast at home, and to enjoy more leisurely morning meals, creating opportunities for retailers and suppliers to grow the breakfast food category.
- Among the breakfast foods to capture consumer attention and dollars are cereals, frozen items and eggs.
- Many popular offerings are more nutritious options, reflecting shoppers’ desire to stay well in the midst of a public-health crisis as well as to attain their overall health goals.
Despite all of the bad news coming out of this ongoing public-health emergency, the news is unquestionably good for breakfast food categories and the retailers that carry them. Both groups have the opportunity to maintain sales growth as consumers initially obliged to have breakfast at home discover that they actually enjoy preparing and eating what Mom always said was the most important meal of the day.
“In the wake of COVID-19, we saw a surge in frozen breakfast items, including croissants, bagels, danishes and bread, as well as traditional ‘freezer aisle’ breakfast items like pancakes, waffles, breakfast sausages, and pre-made heat-and-eat breakfast meals,” notes Scott Crawford, chief merchandising officer at Bronx, New York-based e-grocer FreshDirect, which like other online retailers, is benefiting from the uptick in consumers’ use of e-commerce platforms during the pandemic. “Sales are still significantly up but have normalized with consumer shopping behavior. For our Corporate Office customers, we are also starting to see an increase in demand as offices reopen.”
Adds Crawford: “We’re seeing the increased need for easy meal solutions as customers juggle working from home with remote learning and other challenges. We’re also seeing requests for more individually packaged items — like waffles, mini muffins, etc. — from offices as people return to work.”
He observes that sales of grab-and-go prepared breakfast items have been up as high as 40% year over year, noting, “This was a relatively underpenetrated daypart in prepared foods, as many customers were eating outside of the household — at work, etc.”
Further observations from Crawford on the current state of breakfast: Customers are searching for easy meal solutions for the entire family; as people consistently have breakfast at home, FreshDirect is seeing growth in multiserve versus single-serve items, as with yogurt; there’s been growth in “nostalgia” items such as traditional cereals, which customers have been buying “at higher rates than we have seen in several years”; and within the cereal category, there’s been strong growth in healthier options for families.
The company has “also seen an increased focus on health and nutrition overall, which has brought many new consumers to our always organic products,” he adds.
Among the company’s recent products are Nature’s Path Superfood granolas and oatmeal cups, which come in such varieties as Golden Turmeric and Smoothie Bowl, the latter featuring a blend of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, plus an innovative mix of super greens.
“The launch of our Superfood line hits during a time when consumers are putting their wellness first, focusing on what they can do to include functional ingredients in their diet while still enjoying a delicious treat,” says Stephens.
Griddle Me This
“While convenience during the pandemic may be less about eating on the go, people are still looking for convenient protein breakfast options for the morning and throughout the day. Jimmy Dean brand is excited to introduce two new products this fall that respond to changing consumer behaviors in the midst of the pandemic: Jimmy Dean Casserole Bites and Jimmy Dean Delights Breakfast Wraps.”
The former product offers “everything consumers love about breakfast casseroles baked into handheld, poppable bites made with premium, seasoned Jimmy Dean pork sausage, real eggs, and other breakfast favorites like bacon, potatoes and cheese,” he says, while the latter is “a protein-packed option made with real veggies, all-natural turkey sausage or bacon, white cheddar cheese, and whole scrambled eggs, all conveniently wrapped up into a whole wheat tortilla that can be enjoyed at home or on the go.” These are just two breakfast items in the brand’s “exciting pipeline of innovation,” promises Glenn.