It’s breakfast time, America, and it’s a new day for restaurant owners, caterers, chefs, and the food industry. Responding to consumer demand, the global breakfast and brunch markets are expected to grow exponentially. Attributed in part to rising concerns for healthy diet, breakfast is once again being promoted as the most important meal of the day. And with customers hungry for new on-the-go and sit-down breakfast foods and beverages, the landscape has never been riper for foodservice growth and profit.
New Trendsetting Menus Replace Old Breakfast Fanfare
Forward-thinking and savvy restaurant owners have already begun to update their 2020 menus, adding all-day breakfast options, a wide array of freshly brewed coffees and espressos (after all, what is breakfast without a cup of Joe?), and creative smoothies and fruit juices to their offerings. However, that’s not all. “Unconventional” is the name of the modern breakfast menu game, where a serving of scrambled eggs and toast no longer fits the bill. Instead, new trendsetting dishes are replacing traditional breakfast fanfare, including avocado toast and lox, scones and biscuits versus run-of-the-mill bread, breakfast pizza, steak and eggs, on-the-go burrito sandwiches consumers can eat in their car or at work, and more.
In fact, the lines between breakfast, lunch, and dinner are blurring, with reports from Mintel Research showing a 92% positive rating for “breakfast for dinner” searches on social media. And according to “What’s Hot” chef surveys, ethnic-inspired breakfast items are also at the top of the list (think Middle Eastern shakshuka, Italian poached eggs, and Mexican tostadas…) Combined, all of these dishes are making morning meals a memorable adventure for customers and a potential bonanza for foodservice pros.
The Rise of the Brunch Industry
And that’s not all the good news, more Americans are dining out for brunch than ever before, and industry experts have been chiming in to explain the phenomenon. According to Nation’s Restaurant News: “…brunch is booming for a variety of reasons. Increasingly flexible work arrangements (irregular hours and home offices) allow employees more freedom to eat when they choose. Many work meetings now happen over brunch as well…The relaxed pace of brunch plays a role in its growing popularity.”
Similarly, Mintel Research’s study, “Restaurant Breakfast and Brunch Trends,” found that nearly 40% of the consumers surveyed viewed brunch as a time to socialize with friends and family.
Restaurant Brunch Popularity
Just how popular is brunch these days? Here is what the private chef-booking platform, La Belle Assiette, had to say in its article, “Brunch Boom: How Brunch Became the Most Popular Meal of the Day”: “Walk around any major city on a weekend and brunch will be served by many establishments, putting their own twist on this old favorite. Mexican mixes of salsa and eggs on fajitas; or Italian breads all are welcome on the metropolitan brunch table today.”
Moreover, if you want to know which consumers are chomping at the bit for all-day breakfast and late-morning brunch menus – and hence which customers to target in your marketing efforts – think “millennials.” While all generations currently spend more away-from-home dollars on breakfast, it is millennials (the demographic born between 1977-1992) who are most seeking a modern culinary experience. In fact, brunch has evolved from a formal Mother’s Day meal with family into a laid-back weekend gathering where customers seek a social, creative, and even boozy brunch experience with friends and family.
A New Day in Foodservice
Finally, adding some wise words of wisdom in a shout-out to all food industry professionals, the founder of the restaurant consultancy firm All Things Epicurean, Rob Coritss, has this to say: “Traditions and norms are disappearing in foodservice. Staying relevant to your target audience is about evolving with consumer need states and life stages. If you want to capture the consumer, you have to capture the occasion they want to experience.”
How to Build Your Breakfast Business
The stats speak for themselves: The breakfast food market is growing at a CAGR of 4.6% for the forecast period 2019-2024. Not only are leading manufacturers in the ‘biz (i.e. Kellogg’s, General Mills, Quaker Oats, Delmonte) leveraging the opportunity to optimize their product offerings with flavorful breakfast cereals, cereal bars, energy bars, and ready-to-eat meals, but the biggest names in the industry have also climbed aboard the breakfast-brunch wagon.
McDonald’s nationwide and global all-day breakfast menus have been experiencing more than a 15% revenue generation, while Taco Bell and other quick service restaurants have also tailored their menus to accommodate the morning crowds. Some all-day breakfast items include McDonald’s egg muffins, hash browns, pancakes, and breakfast burritos, new cold-brew frozen coffees, and innovative juice offerings.
If you are planning to expand your breakfast business, follow in their footsteps as you strategically plan your next move. In the current milieu, this is your chance to create a niche market and rise above the competition. To give you a head start, here are some tips from the experts:
- Expand your eatery’s breakfast menu availability to later hours or even all hours (follow the new industry motto: “Breakfast all day, every day”).
- Offer comfortable seating and a setup that allows customers an optimal socializing experience.
- Feature grab-and-go options that can be consumed off-premises by commuting customers.
- Get with the times with updated morning offerings such as quinoa breakfast bowls (quinoa with onions, peppers, black beans, hard-boiled egg whites, cotija cheese) and veggie breakfast wraps (whole wheat tortilla filled with cheddar cheese, scrambled eggs, onions, peppers, and black beans with a side order of breakfast potatoes).
- Balance Health with Indulgence: According to Kevin Maguire, Director of Product Development for market research firm Aramark, customers are looking not only for variety but for a balance between healthfulness and indulgence. For example, to hit all the marks, consider offering French toast with hot maple-butter syrup (the indulgent element), alongside a fresh fruit bowl featuring strawberries, bananas, granola, and coconut flakes.
- Add vegetables to your breakfast and brunch menus, featuring colorful, flavorful, and nutrition-packed veggies that cater the growing demand for plant-based dishes and ingredients.
- Remember to include dishes that accommodate special-needs diets, such as vegan, vegetarian, keto, Paleo, gluten-free, dairy free, nut free, and more.
- Add innovative cereal flavors to your menu, including both nostalgic sweet cereal offerings and breakfast cereals that incorporate protein, ancient grains and fiber-rich ingredients. Some major food brand examples playing on sweet nostalgia include Hostess Donettes from Post Holdings Hostess Donettes from Post Holdings and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Churros from General Mills. And if you really want to think out-of-the-box, gain inspiration from the recent growth of “hipster-baiting cereal cafes” such as Kellogg’s New York City cereal café, which features a do-it-yourself cereal bar with over 30 toppings, specialty cereal drinks, and ice cream sandwiches made with Pop-Tarts. Moreover, the locale offers an Instagram station where customers can design a bowl of cereal, photograph it, and share on social media
- Cash in on the value of eggs, which are not only cheap but highly versatile and easy to add to numerous recipes. With industry stats confirming that eggs-for-breakfast have experienced a 200% growth rate in the last three years, be sure to include a myriad of omelets to your eatery’s menu, including egg-friendly sauces, hot sauces, and ketchups (think Western omelets, fork omelets, veggie omelets, and made-to-order omelets that include a choice of mushrooms, peppers, onions, and Swiss/cheddar/American cheeses)
- Offer nutrient-dense beverages and smoothies that feature functional ingredients with added health benefits (i.e. walnut, grape seed, and avocado oils, hemp seeds, chia seeds, spinach, carrots, kale, and celery)
- Keep in mind that the best-selling breakfast and brunch dishes are rooted in the familiar but also deliver a wow factor. For example, build-your-own breakfast tacos and do-it-yourself veggie shakes are rising the consumer popularity charts
- To generate more traffic and cater to the growing number of millennials and Gen Z’ers who call the Internet home, post eye-catching and share-worthy photos of your standout offerings online (think creative hashes, chicken and waffle platters, and fresh-pressed juices prepared tableside)
- At the end of the day, remember that menu offerings aside, it is always top-notch customer service, value, and convenience that will keep your customers coming back for more
Booze for Breakfast
Serving booze for breakfast in the form of creative cocktails, beers, and punches is also gaining traction amongst brunch-goers, called the Boozy Brunch, restauranteurs are cashing in on this lucrative business opportunity. To gain a solid foothold in the industry, try adding Bellinis, mimosas and Bloody Mary’s to your menu, along with other alcoholic alternatives. Or, offer your customers a bottomless brunch option where a limited menu is offered along with unlimited servings of popular cocktails for a set amount of time during brunch hours.
Breakfast and Brunch Desserts
Finally, dessert time has also arrived on the restaurant morning scene, featuring delectable themes such as pumpkin crepes or ‘waffle mania’ where anything goes. From baked waffles served with layers of ice cream in between to stacked waffles (or pancakes) topped with innovative hot syrups and crushed Oreo cookies, your customers are in for a morning treat!
The face of the food industry, and especially that of foodservice morning menus, is rapidly changing and evolving. Now that you have been privy to an insiders’ look at new innovations in the breakfast space, be sure to capitalize on the new era by creating breakfast and brunch menus that are second to none. Good luck and Bon Appétit!