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​Americans Are Consuming More Breakfast Foods During the Pandemic


MINNEAPOLIS — Consumers are eating more breakfast foods than normal during the COVID-19 pandemic and taking this trend beyond the morning daypart.

According to a recent nationwide online survey conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by General Mills Foodservice, nearly one quarter of Americans report eating more breakfast foods during the COVID-19 pandemic than they normally would (24 percent).

Among the top five favorite breakfast items are eggs (72 percent), cereal and pancakes (both 51 percent), bakery items such as doughnuts (36 percent), cinnamon rolls (34 percent) and muffins (33 percent).

Additionally, nearly four in five Americans (79 percent) have eaten breakfast foods outside of the traditional breakfast meal in the past year.

"The recent poll shows that people are eating more breakfast foods during the pandemic and enjoying them for lunch, dinner and even dessert," said Mark Harmon, a consumer insights analyst for General Mills Foodservice. "We also learned that consumers are eager to return to restaurants to enjoy their favorite breakfast and brunch foods, signaling that breakfast could be all the buzz on spring and summer menus."

According to the poll, consumers who are eating more breakfast foods during the pandemic over the past year are doing so because they feel they have more freedom in what and when they eat since they have more time in their schedule (52 percent), they've been craving their favorite breakfast foods (37 percent), they want to eat something fun that brings them joy (33 percent) or breakfast favorites remind them of childhood (24 percent).

Other findings include:

  • Consumers have a deep affection for breakfast, with three in five Americans (62 percent) saying breakfast is their favorite meal of the day and more than half (56 percent) saying they love breakfast food more now than they did a year ago.
  • More than three-quarters of respondents (79 percent) have eaten breakfast foods for meals other than breakfast in the past year with more than half (59 percent) saying they have eaten breakfast foods for dinner, 49 percent have enjoyed breakfast foods for lunch and 20 percent have eaten breakfast items for dessert.
  • Three-quarters of Americans look forward to eating breakfast/brunch at their favorite restaurant once the pandemic is over with more than one third (36 percent) saying they would like to be able to purchase breakfast/brunch meal kits (e.g., biscuits and gravy, pancakes) or ''take and bake'' breakfast items (e.g., cinnamon rolls, muffins) to cook and bake at home from their favorite restaurant.
  • Sixty-six percent said they love creative twists on breakfast menu items.

"Consumers' love of breakfast is strong, giving chefs and foodservice operations the chance to reimagine breakfast," said Harmon. "For instance, consumers may not have breakfast for dinner in their regular rotation of eating, but they may be tempted to splurge on it for a memorable experience."

General Mills Foodservice and Pillsbury, its premier baking brand for foodservice professionals, offers these tips to retailers to boost breakfast business:

  • Serve breakfast all-day with a special menu of morning favorites or a signature breakfast item-of-the-day.
  • Celebrate "brinner" with a limited-time offer or buy-one-get-one-free breakfast menu.
  • Get creative with menu items that feature a breakfast flair, such as a grilled cheese doughnut, savory doughnuts or pancakes, waffles as a sandwich carrier.
  • "Plus up" traditional breakfast foods and give them a new twist, such as biscuit avocado toast, smoky mac & cheese waffles, cinnamon roll waffles or Fiesta French toast.
  • Introduce a menu of "bresserts" or dessert items made from traditional breakfast items, like cinnamon roll cobbler, strawberry scone shortcake, cereal-flavored ice cream waffles sandwiches, birthday cake pancakes.
  • Offer tempting "take and bake" options for breakfast foods.
  • Bundle breakfast foods together for a family brunch meal kit, including biscuits and gravy, pancakes with sausage or bacon and fresh fruit, breakfast sandwiches and yogurt parfaits.

The Harris Poll commissioned by General Mills Foodservice was conducted online from Feb. 11-16 among 2,038 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, General Mills Convenience & Foodservice serves the convenience, foodservice and bakery industries. Its distinguished brand portfolio includes Big G Cereals, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Gold Medal, Pillsbury, Chex Mix, Bugles, Gardetto's and Annie's.

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