Breakfast Still Reigns as Most Important Meal

NEW YORK -- Breakfast is still the champion of dayparts for both consumers and retailers alike, according to recent findings from The Nielsen Co. and the Natural Marketing Institute.

Morning routines have shifted with Americans' fast-paced lives. Understanding how these consumers choose to fuel up each morning is important for retailers to understand, Nielsen revealed.

As sales of breakfast cereal -- the largest category at $8.5 billion -- are slipping, the daypart itself is growing across the retail landscape. Consumers have been turning elsewhere to quick and easy options.

For instance, the frozen aisle -- waffles, pancakes and French toast -- has grown considerably over the past five years, as have packaged breakfast meals, breakfast sausage and in-store bakery goods. The $104.7-million deli breakfast category has seen the most growth as a result of the popularity of breakfast sandwiches.

Additionally, more consumers are looking for healthy options, as evidenced by a boom in granola and yogurt bars. Sales in this category now total $2.4 billion.  

Some suppliers are learning to take advantage of these breakfast trends, according to Nielsen. Mondelēz International Inc. introduced the belVita breakfast biscuit made with baked grains that fuel consumers throughout the morning, while the Nature Valley team at General Mills responded to consumer demand for better-tasting protein bars.

Meanwhile, some consumers haven't abandoned the kitchen, as evidenced by hot cereal sales growing for the third consecutive year. Egg sales have also grown, with branded eggs seeing 10.4-percent growth as of the end of July.

Nielsen offered retailers some additional tips on how to win at breakfast:

  • Focus on fresh. Consumers may spend less time for planning and preparing meals, but they remain focused on taste, quality and freshness.
  • Be mindful of in-store baked good sales at breakfast. This is a $3.2-billion segment and has generated a combined annual growth rate of 4.5 percent over the past five years.
  • Offer products like granola and yogurt bars that taste good and pack a health benefit.
  • Convenience is key and many consumers are looking to start their days in the freezer aisle.
  • There are opportunities in larger categories that have seen lower sales. Even though sales in the ready-to-eat segment are trending down, sales of gluten-free, no-GMO and no high-fructose corn syrup sub-segments are posting double-digit growth.
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