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Why Breakfast Foods Are Trending

The morning meal occasion has given rise to certain major trends — including what time of day such foods are eaten
Among Kellogg's latest breakfast products are new offerings from beloved waffle brand Eggo.

What’s more quintessentially American than those inviting signs at diners, coffee shops and fast-casual eateries across the country beckoning customers with the promise of “Breakfast All Day”? Now it seems that consumers are taking that directive to heart even when eating at home.

“The trend of all-day availability with breakfast foods has been taking on new legs,” affirms Cindy Wu, VP of marketing at Hayward, Calif.-based Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods, which recently came out with a line of frozen breakfast-style Naanwiches. “Whether it’s at fast-food or sit-down restaurants, we’ve noticed menus offering eggs, bacon and various breakfast dishes at all hours. Breakfast foods are also comfort foods that are associated with calming weekend mornings, slower starts and starting your day off right. People are taking that positive association of breakfast and carrying it through their day.”

[Read more: "Target Elevates Breakfast With Ghetto Gastro"]

“We … believe the breakfast space will continue to become the ‘anytime’ space as more consumers eat breakfast foods for lunch, dinner and anywhere in between,” agrees Karuna Rawal, CMO of Chicago-based Nature’s Fynd, whose offerings include Meatless Breakfast Patties and Dairy-Free Cream Cheese. (Read more about alt-protein breakfast options here.)

Just as more people are eating breakfast foods all day, increasing numbers of consumers are opting for items not normally associated with that daypart.

“The ‘first meal of the day’ will continue to evolve and expand to include ‘nontraditional’ breakfast foods, with a blurring of eating occasions,” observes Carrie Sander, general manager, portable wholesome snacks at Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co., long known for its wide array of breakfast foods, including new flavors from iconic waffle brand Eggo released during National Brunch Month in April: Vanilla Bean Grab & Go Liège-Style Waffles, Chocolatey Chip Banana Waffles, and Berry Blast Mini Toast Waffles.

“With the trend of breakfast all day, dinner all day also works in reverse,” notes Wu. “People easily switch between flavors. So, [Sukhi’s] Chicken Tikka Street Wrap is as easily consumed as a breakfast item as the Egg, Pepper & Cheese [Naanwich]. We like to present our varieties together in retail stores so that consumers can choose what they want to eat and when.”

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Egglife's egg white wraps are a high-protein, low-carbohydrate alternative to corn or flour tortillas at breakfast.

Health, Convenience and Sustainability

Beyond what times people consume breakfast foods, a key ongoing trend in this space is health, particularly in relation to one crucial nutrient.

Ricardo Fernandez, president, morning foods at Minneapolis-based General Mills, points out that “consumers are seeking products with added protein and other nutritional benefits. That’s why we are continuing to expand our portfolio of high-protein products, including :ratio PROTEIN Yogurt, :ratio Cereal and Nature Valley Protein Granola.”

“The importance of protein in the morning continues to grow,” notes Sander. “Consumers are busier than ever and looking for a quick energy boost. Manufacturers are leaning in with protein-forward products.”

Among those products are offerings from Egglife Foods, whose refrigerated egg white wraps come in several flavor profiles, including recently released Garden Salsa wraps available exclusively at ALDI. “Protein can build healthy tissue, produce energy, promote muscle growth, support mental performance, help stabilize blood sugar, enhance immunity and help curb your appetite until your next meal,” says David Kroll, CEO of Chicago-based Egglife. He adds that the company’s “wraps are nutritious alternatives to traditional corn or flour tortillas and add 5-plus grams of protein to any breakfast, from burritos and quesadillas to crepes and rollups.” The wraps also fit a variety of dietary need states such as gluten-free, keto, diabetic and Whole30 lifestyles.

Among the other health trends influencing the breakfast food category are “intermittent fasting, eating frequent small meals and keeping energy stable throughout the day, [which] are changing when people ‘break their fast’ [and leading] to an increase in ‘micro meals’ and snacking behavior versus the traditional morning meal,” notes Sander. “For portability and protein, [snacking division] Kellanova has strong brands such as Nutri-Grain, RXBAR and Special K Bars that serve the morning occasion.” 

Krusteaz is capitalizing on the rising popularity of churro-flavored items for breakfast with a recently introduced waffle mix.

“The intersection of health and convenience is going to continue to be a place consumers are looking for new breakfast solutions,” agrees Kroll. To that end, “Sukhi’s developed breakfast-style Naanwiches to address a need for clean-ingredient, easy-to-heat-and-eat, flavorful breakfast options,” notes Wu.

“Consumers will continue to seek out convenience to meet busy schedules, as well as versatility to cater to creating and experimenting in the kitchen, and we’re happy to be able to offer products that meet both needs,” says Caroline Platt, director of brand marketing at The Krusteaz Co., based in Tukwila, Wash. The brand’s recently introduced Cinnamon Churro Waffle Mix taps into the rising momentum of churro-flavored items for breakfast.

Thomas’ also believes in making things as easy as possible for the morning meal occasion. “When it comes to breakfast, many consumers have a love-hate relationship with it,” observes Mary Pensiero, brand manager at Horsham, Pa.-based Bimbo Bakeries USA, parent company of Thomas’. “They enjoy breakfast and breakfast’s traditional offerings but struggle to find a product that aligns with their on-the-go lifestyle to enjoy in the mornings. Luckily, Thomas’ Breads has made it a point to evolve with on-the-go breakfast trends and work to introduce new products that meet consumers’ busy lifestyles. In June 2023, Thomas relaunched Muffin Tops, which come in two flavors: Blueberry Oat and Chocolate Chip.”

Citing Circana data, Pensiero also notes, “As more on-the-go, convenient breakfast options continue to rise, so does morning snacking.” Individually wrapped Muffin Tops also deliver in that regard, making the line “the perfect option for consumers looking for convenient breakfast and snacking options.”

Alongside health and convenience, breakfast food shoppers “will place more value on sustainability and purpose-driven brands,” asserts Sander. “Kellogg’s has a strong ESG plan in place, and we continue to give back through our Better Days promise … to advance sustainable and equitable access to food by addressing the intersection of well-being, hunger, sustainability, and equity, diversity and inclusion for 3 billion people by the end of 2030.”

“Trends seem to spread across sweet indulgence, health and wellness, and sustainability,” says Cameron Meekins, of Boston-based Stone & Skillet, whose English muffin varieties include an upcycled product made with grain left over from the beer-brewing process. “We launched a new French toast flavor that is performing well as a sweet item, but health and wellness is really the biggest trend in breakfast. With the addition of all the fiber and protein in the upcycled Super Grains item, it really hits that consumers need to start the day feeling good with natural energy. And then when they learn of the story and upcycled thought leadership that goes into this Super Grains product, they fall in love with it and spread the good word.”

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Thomas' Blueberry Oat Muffin Tops
Thomas' relaunched Muffin Tops are individually wrapped for added convenience.

A Taste of the Past — And the Future

For certain breakfast foods, evoking fond memories of youth is a critical component of marketing.

“We are continuing to see an increased emphasis on breakfast foods that tap into culture and nostalgia,” notes General Mills’ Fernandez. “Our consumers want foods that connect to their lives and interests, as well as breakfast foods that tap into childhood nostalgia. Our recent Cinnamoji Toast Crunch cereal x WWE partnership and the upcoming return of Monsters Cereals — including new updates like introducing the first female mascot! — are great examples of how we’re leveraging these trends, or our focus on Yoplait this summer and its role as America’s favorite strawberry yogurt.”

It’s not all about reliving bygone days, however, and not even just for breakfast.

“Our retail customers ... are also catering to the demands of their consumers who want to pair those family favorites with innovations, product crossovers and seasonal flavors,” says Fernandez. “We’ve had tremendous success expanding our portfolio both inside and out of the cereal aisle through the popularity of some of our most well-loved brands such as Yoplait yogurt and cereal snacks (Yoplait topped with Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch in one package), Trix Popcorn, Lucky Charms S’Mores, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bugles.” 

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