We’ve all done it — eating eggs or pancakes in the evening, leaving us not only satisfied, but giggling with joy as if we did something taboo. New information shows this behavior is poised to grow in the U.S., perhaps signaling a mindset change regarding what constitutes a breakfast food. Our new report, The Future of Morning, illustrates how foods and beverages will change in the morning and also examines the role traditional breakfast foods play at other parts of the day.

In recent years, several foodservice operators made this behavior more permissible (and accessible) by providing all-day breakfast items on their menus, something traditionally exclusive to the local diner. For many of these operators, the expanded menu was met with open arms by consumers. Behind this behavior is a redefinition of the dayparts. Increasingly consumers seek foods that fit needs rather than foods that fit a particular part of the day. Eggs, for example, provide the protein consumers seek, and they fill that need at any time of the day. By 2024, our forecast for warm breakfast foods at dinner time is that they will reach more than 3 billion eatings in the U.S. That’s a 5% increase from today, surpassing the rate of population growth.

Younger generations are expected to drive this increase, especially Gen Zs who are entering adulthood (aged 19 – 27 in 2024) and younger Millennials (aged 28 – 34 in 2024). These are also some of our most ethnically diverse demographic groups, often bringing food cultures from their families’ home countries. Many Asian meals, for example, use eggs in dinner dishes; the concept of an egg outside of breakfast is commonplace in some Asian cultures. Baby Boomers, in contrast to those younger age groups, have solidified their eating habits, prefer familiar favorites at their meals, and are expected to limit their breakfast foods to the morning.

A smaller but still quickly growing shift is non-breakfast foods making their way into the morning meal occasion. Once again, multicultural influences are helping this movement; foods like flavored rice and fish are appearing on morning menus and at food trucks. By 2024 there will be about 2 billion non-breakfast foods consumed in the morning — that’s nearly a 6% increase from today.

For more information on the future of morning and breakfast foods, contact darren.seifer@npd.com.