The way people eat breakfast has undergone huge changes within the last couple of decades. The rapid growth in frequency with which breakfast is being eaten outside the home or on the go presents numerous opportunities for the bakery industry.
Many consumers – especially in the younger age groups – appear to be gravitating towards more flexible and portable forms of breakfast, if they eat breakfast at all. According to research carried out in 2017 by Irish porridge oats manufacturer Flavahans, over 25 million UK adults regularly skip breakfast, a trend most apparent amongst the younger age groups – for example, 66% of those aged 16-24 do so, a figure which drops to 58% for those in the 25-34 range.
Similar findings resulted from a 2018 survey carried out for Herbalife Nutrition of more than 8,000 people across the U.S., China, and several Asia-Pacific nations. This found that almost half of all respondents skipped breakfast. Lack of time is the leading reason behind breakfast skipping in all three regions, cited by 44% of Chinese respondents and 38% in the US. Lack of appetite was mentioned by 34% of US people and 32% in China, while almost a fifth (19%) of those in the US indicated that skipping breakfast formed part of a weight loss plan. However, the study also found that over half (55%) of US consumers eat breakfast every day of the week, rising to 81% in China.
Despite the tendency of many people to skip breakfast, it remains an important eating occasion. In the UK, for example, breakfast accounts for 28% of all eating and drinking occasions, with the average consumer eating breakfast six times during a typical week. However, the breakfast occasion has now become far more flexible in many parts of the world – in certain western markets, it is increasingly likely to be eaten later in the day and therefore morphs into brunch, while many foodservice menus now offer all-day breakfasts. Within the home, breakfast is often likely to be a rushed affair – as the data from Harris Interactive below indicates, a quarter of consumers typically spend two minutes or less preparing weekday breakfasts.
With lifestyles becoming busier and more time-pressured, more people are increasingly inclined to eat breakfast out of the home. One trend which has gathered pace in recent years has been ‘deskfasting’, i.e. workers eating breakfast at their desks. Deskfasting now accounts for an estimated 12% of all breakfast occasions in the UK, with almost a quarter (23%) of people aged 25-34 eating breakfast at their desks on a regular basis. Furthermore, people in full-time employment such as office workers represent key consumers for breakfast eaten on the go. In the UK, work-based journeys account for a leading 16% of all occasions when breakfast is consumed in this manner.
The Out-of-Home Breakfast Market
The fact that more people now have less time on weekday mornings has been a major growth driver of the market for out-of-home breakfasts. The global market for breakfasts eaten on the go or out-of-home is expected to increase by 46% between 2018 and 2026. One of the world’s largest markets is the UK – according to data from Kantar Worldpanel, the number of on-the-go breakfasts eaten rose by almost 10% to 263 million occasions, although this still represents less than 2% of all breakfasts eaten in the UK. This habit is especially well ingrained amongst the younger age groups, since people aged 16-34 accounted for 40% of all breakfasts eaten on the go during this time.
The market has grown significantly in recent years. According to a 2017 report from potato products manufacturer Lamb Weston, 2.6 million UK adults now eat out of home between 10 am and 12 pm on a regular basis – this compares with just 1.3 million in the middle of the 1970s. However, breakfast continues to account for only a relatively small percentage of the eating out market in the UK, estimated at 12% of all occasions and trailing well behind other meals such as lunch and dinner. Younger adults appear to be leading this trend towards breakfasting or brunching out of home, since almost half (48%) of those aged 18-24 do so once or twice a month or more. This figure decreases to 41% for those aged 25-34 and falls further amongst the older generations. According to the Lamb Weston report, the UK market for breakfasting out-of-home is now worth GBP13bn per year and growing.
Similar trends can be observed elsewhere in Western Europe and North America. In Canada, for example, over 550 million breakfast sandwiches (e.g. bacon or egg rolls) were eaten out-of-home, up by 12% compared with three years previously. However, growth within the sizeable US market now appears to be waning. In 2018, breakfast visits to restaurants grew by just 1%, down from 5% in 2015.
As the popularity of eating breakfast out of home has increased, the range of possible venues has also widened. In the UK, cafés remain the most popular place for eating breakfast out of home – these were mentioned by 46% of people according to data from Lamb Weston. This figure compares with 28% for fast food chains, 27% for hotels, 20% for restaurants and 13% for pubs. This gives some indication of the strong competition which now exists for bakery chains looking to tap into the growth of the out of home breakfast market. Leading attractions for consumers include convenience and indulgence, with the latter especially important for people aged 18-24.