Breakfast Equals 60 Percent of Restaurant Traffic Growth In Past Five Years

CHICAGO -- Breakfast accounted for nearly 60 percent of the restaurant industry's traffic growth over the past five years, and if not for the breakfast day part faring relatively better than other day parts, restaurant visit declines over the last two years would have been steeper, according to The NPD group, a market research firm based here.

For the year ended March 2010, there were more than 12 billion morning meals served at U.S. restaurants; 80 percent of restaurant morning meals were purchased from quick-service restaurants (QSRs), NPD's foodservice market research revealed. Over the past five years, morning meal traffic increased an average of 2 percent per year, comparatively, while lunch visits were flat and supper traffic declined 2 percent per year on average.

"Breakfast has been and is projected to continue to be a bright spot for the restaurant industry," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD's restaurant industry analyst. "A restaurant morning meal serves a variety of needs. In addition to helping us jump start our day, it satisfies the need for convenience, is less costly than other restaurant meals and is readily available to us."

Recognizing the importance of the morning meal as an opportunity to capture share and build consumer loyalty, major chains have recently announced expansion into the breakfast day part. NPD's QSR Market Monitor, which monitors local market activity for QSR chains, found consumers who visit a chain for more than one day part tend to be more loyal, more likely to recommend the chain, more frequent visitors and contribute more volume.

Two of the fastest-growing menu items these restaurant visitors order are specialty coffee and breakfast sandwiches, both of which contributed to the breakfast day part growth. From February 2005 through February 2010, servings of specialty coffee and breakfast sandwiches grew twice as fast as the industry.

According to a soon-to-be-released "The Future of Foodservice," which provides a 10-year forecast of foodservice trends based on aging, population growth and trend momentum, servings of breakfast sandwiches are projected to outpace the industry's growth forecast. Annual servings per capita of breakfast sandwiches at foodservice are forecasted to jump from 11 in 2004 to 14 in 2019.

"There is a lot of activity around the breakfast day part right now, with chains expanding into the day part, and the addition of breakfast menu items, promotions and deals," Rigg said. "Currently only one out of ten breakfast opportunities is satisfied by foodservice, and there are more breakfasts skipped than served in restaurants, all of which means that breakfast is a significant growth opportunity for the foodservice industry."

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