- A new study by Technomic finds that more consumers are skipping breakfast now than they were two years ago, according to a company press release. In addition, fewer people today say that skipping breakfast is unhealthy.
- All-day breakfast menus are still popular, with 30% of consumers reporting they buy breakfast foods outside of the traditional morning hours more now than they did two years ago. In addition, brunch is gaining popularity, with 40% of respondents saying they eat brunch at least once a week.
- Thirty-one percent of consumers said they think of breakfast as more of a "destination" than they did in 2015.
As busy lives get busier, the first meal consumers drop appears to be breakfast. What’s interesting is that consumers still love their breakfast foods, despite their lack of patience for the eating occasion. All-day breakfast menus and brunch are in high demand.
But not all breakfast products have maintained stability. A combination of hectic morning routines and a trend toward high-protein, portable foods have hurt cereal's status as a morning food staple. The industry as a whole is down from nearly $14 billion in annual sales in 2000 to less than $8.75 billion in 2016.
Major cereal manufacturers are responding to demand for more portable options with the introduction of breakfast bars and to-go tubs of cereal that can be snacked on while driving to work. In 2016, General Mills announced it was going to “focus on formulas that are increasingly snackable” to keep up with changing tastes.
Future Market Insights reported worldwide demand for on-the-go breakfast products registered at more than $1 billion in 2015. In addition, Nielsen reported that grab-and-go breakfast items were the biggest market gainer in 2016. If cereal used to be the gold standard of the morning hours, anything that can be eaten while driving, walking, or sitting on a train appears to be its successor.
With so much priority placed on eating on-the-go, the expectations for breakfast have shifted. What is often called the most important meal of the day seems to serve more as a glorified snack today. Eating between meals has increased in popularity, especially among millennials, so breakfast is just the start of many small meals through the day for a growing number of consumers.
This snacking trend could be a bright spot for cereal manufacturers. According to Mintel, 43% of U.S. cereal consumers eat the product as a snack at home — the second most common reason to have cereal aside from breakfast. Mintel also found that millennials are more likely to eat a bowl of cereal as a snack than other generations. With these consumption behaviors in mind, it would be wise for cereal manufacturers to incorporate the value-adds consumers seek from heir snacks — like protein, complex flavors and textures — to cold cereal in order to drive sales.