In 2010 we published a study on The Future of Foodservice, which provided a ten-year forecast of foodservice trends based on aging, population growth, and trend momentum. We forecast at the time of publication that the breakfast daypart and breakfast food categories would outpace total industry growth over the next ten years. I’m not pointing this out as a “we told you so,” I’m pointing it out because it makes perfect sense. 

Morning meal (breakfast and AM Snack) has shown consistent traffic growth over the last several years. The only foodservice daypart with year-over-year growth. Bottom line is that a restaurant breakfast or morning meal serves a variety of needs. It satisfies the need for convenience at one of the busiest times of our day, is less costly than other restaurant meals, and is readily available to us. What’s not to like?

The fact that foodservice breakfast meets multiple needs for consumers is certainly an upside, but another upside for operators is that 78 percent of breakfasts are prepared and eaten in-home or carried from home — more than any other meal.  In addition, in-home breakfast declined eight meals per capita between 2015 and 2018 and foodservice gained two breakfast meals per capita during the period. 

Here are some other points and thoughts on breakfast: 

  • More restaurants are getting into the breakfast space, giving consumers more away-from-home options.
  • It’s all about breakfast on the go.  Over the long-term — although not in recent quarters — breakfast growth is due to the morning snack occasion.  Even the in-home breakfast is giving way to morning snack.  In addition, there is likely more than one occasion to attract morning traffic.
  • Foods like breakfast sandwiches appeal to consumers as an inexpensive, portable way to have a simple but somewhat balanced meal (eggs/sausage/bacon for protein, cheese, bread).  And the definition of breakfast sandwich has evolved beyond traditional breakfast proteins and now includes chicken.  The breakfast sandwich has also diversified into tacos, taquitos, and burritos.

There is a lot of activity around the breakfast daypart with chains expanding into the daypart and the addition of breakfast menu items. Currently only 13 percent of breakfast opportunities are satisfied by foodservice, and 9 percent of breakfasts are missed or skipped, all of which means that breakfast is a significant growth opportunity for the foodservice industry.    

You’ll hear more about breakfast and other industry topics at our upcoming U.S. Food Summit, “Winning the Moment,” which will be held in Chicago, April 23-24. Hope to see you there.