Breakfast is still booming, but manufacturers need to address trends
- Despite health and economic trends, traditional breakfast staples continue to fare well, according to a recent Packaged Facts report.
- About 60% of American consumers say they use waffle or pancake mix, compared to up to 64% a decade ago. About 48% say they buy frozen varieties of waffles, pancakes and French toast, which is relatively steady save a modest downturn for in the last two years.
- Portable foods like breakfast bars, breakfast sandwiches, supplements and energy bars became increasingly popular over the past decade. Less convenient but more traditional breakfast staples, such as eggs, bacon and sausage experienced slight to moderate usage declines.
The affordability of breakfast mixes and frozen products allowed manufacturers to weather the recession better than other segments. But both have felt the impact of consumers' increased avoidance of gluten, whether because they cannot tolerate it or because they believe it isn't healthy. Releasing gluten-free varieties of breakfast foods could help manufacturers combat lost sales, but formulations of gluten-free baked goods can be more difficult to master.
Cold cereal is another category that has declined significantly in recent years because of concerns about gluten and high sugar content for many brands. Manufacturers have experimented with a range of options, such as creating a cereal cafe in Times Square or arranging to have cereal brands positioned in the produce section of grocery stores.
Even breakfast staples that meet today's consumer health demands have suffered declines over the past decade. Eggs, bacon and sausage provide protein, healthy fats and nutrients, but they aren't as convenient or portable on their own, which misses another key consumer trend. Cold cereal faces the same convenience issue, which is why manufacturers like General Mills have moved to disassociate cereal and milk.
The trick for manufacturers is to strike a balance between healthy, convenient and indulgent. That's why products like breakfast sandwiches, which often combine eggs and bacon or sausage in a more portable package, have taken off over the past several years.
- Packaged Facts via Food Manufacturing Packaged Facts: Still Room for Pancakes and Waffles at America's Breakfast Table