Editor’s Note

My mother always told me that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I’m sure your mom told you the same thing.

Well, according to Mintel, the marketing intelligence firm, the most important meal of the day has become the hottest area of competition for the foodservice industry. Mintel reports that restaurants added more than 460 new breakfast items to their menus last year, more than in either 2007 or 2008.

Yet half of consumers are spending less on restaurant breakfasts compared to 2008, and only one in 10 are spending more. “We see an increasingly competitive market for restaurant breakfast, even though sales have declined,” says Eric Giandelone, Mintel Foodservice’s director of research. “Restaurants are refreshing their breakfast menus, but I believe reduced consumer spending, as well as relatively high unemployment, will limit sales growth over the next year.”

My mother also told me that a word to the wise is sufficient. To keep or raise their share of breakfast business, supermarket foodservice operations should be aware of what Mintel found drives people into restaurants for breakfast: low prices and convenience on weekdays, and food quality and menu variety on weekends.

What’s more, Mintel’s Giandelone notes that operators “can also perk up sales by realizing that many diners crave breakfast outside traditional breakfast hours.” The top thing breakfast diners told Mintel they’d like to see in foodservice establishments was “all-day breakfast” (36% weekday, 38% weekend). Thirty-two percent of breakfast diners also told Mintel that more value meals were desired.

Promoting healthy breakfasts is another way to best the competition, as evidenced by a recent survey by market researcher Technomic, which found that nearly half of the consumers polled cited a healthy nutrition profile as an important or extremely important attribute in breakfast food. And foodservice professionals say that when tasty and attractive healthy choices are offered, customers are open to starting their days in wholesome way.

So, as my mom never said, wake up and smell the breakfast coffee, grocers! It’s calling your name.
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