Open for Breakfast

Whether the a.m. daypart is really the most important meal of the day is unclear, but consumers’ growing appetite for fast and convenient breakfast foods is undoubtedly benefiting the deli breakfast category.

Deli prepared breakfast accounted for $86.4 million in sales, up 14 percent in dollars and 1 percent in volume for the year ending Feb. 26, 2016, noted Sarah Schmansky, director of Nielsen’s Perishables Group. Driving growth within the deli prepared breakfast category are breakfast sandwiches with yearly sales of about $40.2 million, up more than 14 percent from the year prior, followed by quiche, breakfast meals/combos and omelets.

“As the consumer and competitive landscape continues to evolve, the need for convenient and on-the-go offerings across all meal occasions is at its highest. And growth within deli prepared breakfast is being driven by categories that provide that value to its consumers,” said Schmansky.

Breakfast sandwiches, burritos and meals/combos (bagels/coffee and breakfast bowls/plates, for example) are up in both dollars and volume, Schmansky said, noting that these types of selections provide consumers with quick and easy breakfast solutions they can eat while commuting to the office. Breakfast quiches, meanwhile, also show strong dollar and volume growth (18 percent and 8 percent, respectively), providing a no-hassle solution for weekend brunches and get-togethers.

Anticipated growth in the overall foodservice breakfast category points to unlimited opportunities for the deli and prepared food departments. Market research agency Mintel forecasts that U.S. sales of breakfast foods at restaurants and other eating places will reach $60.4 billion by 2019, up from an estimated $52.2 billion in 2015, according to Mintel’s “Breakfast Restaurant Trends” executive summary for 2015.

“Consumers are more compelled to visit a restaurant for breakfast if it is on the way to their destination and/or offers drive-thru, quick carryout, etc.,” Mintel’s summary concluded. “Convenience is not about driving; it can also include how convenient the foods are for on-the-go eating.”

Indeed, with breakfast competition heating up across the board, Schmansky stressed that it’s important for retailers to consider what’s winning outside their four walls to get consumers thinking about the grocery store as a breakfast stop option and to entice them away from their traditional morning routines.  

“Making it easy for the consumer to run in and pick up a breakfast sandwich or yogurt parfait and cut-up fruit with their favorite coffee drink is key,” she said. “In order for consumers to view their grocery store for this meal occasion, we’re seeing some retailers transform their deli hot bars on the weekend to provide a breakfast buffet to meet any consumer’s breakfast desires, including made-to-order omelets, breakfast meats, potatoes and a fruit/yogurt/oatmeal bar.”

Jonathan Whalley, education coordinator for the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA), added that the supermarket deli’s access to a vast variety of fresh ingredients places it in a unique position to draw consumers, vs. what other types of quick-serve and convenient breakfast locations can offer.

“Fresh smoothies, healthful grab-n-go items, and specialty products like cheeses and meats can help differentiate a grocery retail breakfast from a sandwich shop down the street,” he said, adding that location, surrounding options, and the ability to do convenience well are all factors in whether a breakfast program will be successful.

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