Cash-strapped shoppers are cutting back by breakfasting at home more often. C-Store looks at how to tap into the modern breakfast club

After years of ‘al desko’ cereal and smoothies slurped on the go, it seems that today’s thrifty shoppers are bringing breakfast back into the home. According to Mintel, two-thirds of consumers now eat breakfast at home every day, mainly in a bid to save money. By making time in the morning, even for just a slice of toast, customers are hoping to make their food budgets stretch further.

But whether it’s a breakfast bap on the bus, or a cereal with the family, Mintel’s research underlines just how important breakfast is in the UK, with nearly two-thirds of interviewees claiming it as an essential part of their daily routine.

“There’s an old saying about breakfast being the most important meal of the day, which is no less true for convenience retailers,” says Sanjeev Khanna, head of speciality at Kellogg’s UK. “Breakfast is actually the biggest meal occasion, ahead of lunch, and accounts for 28% of all UK food occasions - so it provides a massive sales opportunity for retailers.”

However, while breakfast as a whole may be booming, some category segments are being left on the shelf. For instance, according to Mintel, the breakfast cereal market increased in value by 20% between 2007 and 2012 - but most of this growth was driven by rising grain prices. In volume terms the market has actually contracted 5% over the same period.

Retailer’s view

“The breakfast category is very important to us people don’t have time in the morning to have breakfast at home - they need to grab and go.

“We also know that when customers come in for breakfast items they always pick up other items for later in the day. The biggest sellers are hot food items breakfast muffins and sausage rolls are real winners. Hot food to go has always been important to the breakfast category - we have a dedicated person who looks after this section and is constantly looking at ways to develop sales further. I think breakfast muffins go well because they are tasty and cheaper than a lunchtime sandwich.

“Cold options aren’t really appealing to customers as you don’t get so much for your money. We continue to look at developing them, but find this more of a challenge than we do on hot food. A hot breakfast muffin at just over £2 on a winter’s morning is a must, and customers find it hard to resist!”

Jason Tamplin, manager, Symonds’ Budgens, Somerset

This doesn’t mean writing off cereal altogether. In fact, half of all breakfasts in the UK feature cereal of some sort - and the value of hot cereals is actually warming up. Mintel says value sales of hot cereals, such as oats, soared 14% between 2007 and 2012, despite some exceptionally mild winters.

The current rising star in the sector is Quaker’s Oat So Simple, buoyed by the release of individual pots in 2011. And now smaller brands are trying to take the lead, capitalising on porridge’s healthy, value-for-money credentials.

Phat Porridge is one of the new generation of manufacturers intent on hitting the sweet spot between health and convenience. “The inspiration behind Phat Porridge was that many operators want to sell a fun and innovative porridge in a format that can also be sold as a hot takeaway/to go offer,” explains the company’s Paul Clark.

“We also wanted to ensure that it had all-round appeal, with a touch of added demerara sugar to give a slightly sweetened taste.”

Clark says that including a spoon inside each pack has proved to be “a real winner” with consumers who are looking for a swift breakfast solution. “Many operators don’t want to carry extra spoons and packaging for customers, so it’s simple for both the operator and the customer,” he says.

With household penetration running at 90% for cereal-based products, manufacturers need to be innovative to break the market open. In recent years the big success story has been breakfast biscuits - a new category that’s marked a turning point in the battle for the nation’s breakfast tables. Khanna says: “If you had said to me 10 years ago that people would be eating biscuits at breakfast time, I wouldn’t have believed you - but the figures don’t lie.

“There are an estimated 2.6 billion missed breakfast occasions every year in the UK and we know that the breakfast biscuit market is worth £28m.”

Kellogg’s has met this market head-on with its new Nutri-Grain Breakfast Biscuits. The brand is betting on the fact that its version contains 35% more wholegrain than other breakfast biscuits, plus added vitamins and fibre.

“Breakfast biscuits have shaken up the healthy biscuit category,” adds Belvita senior brand manager Rahul Gursahani. He says that getting consumers to buy a biscuit for breakfast was initially a tough sell, but the gamble paid off.

“This was an innovation that looked to change consumers’ habits, which is never easy,” he says. “It needed the right proposition and then the right product to deliver for our customers and consumers.”

Hovis is aiming for a piece of the action, too, with its new Breakfast Bakes. The range, which is available in Oats & Honey, Malted Crunch, and Milk & Oats variants, features whole grains of wheat and oats with a minimum of 5% wheatgerm.

In among all this innovation it’s heartening to hear that the humble round of toast still has a place at breakfast. Mintel says that it’s the second most popular in-home breakfast option, eaten by 58% of consumers, but it’s being challenged by its more fancy bakery cousins, prompted by customers looking for weekend treats.

“The need for convenience is balanced with the need for enjoyment at breakfast,” says Martin Baptie, Warburtons’ category controller. “As a result we have seen the treat breakfast sector, including products such as brioche, croissants and waffles, grow year on year, with annualised growth of more than 12% in value terms and 14% in units.”

In fact, the sector looks to be overtaking traditional breakfast in value terms at £169m vs £164m (Nielsen, total coverage, value and unit sales, 52 weeks ending October 13, 2012). The Warburtons range of brioche products, launched in January 2012, is now worth more than £1.3m and includes rolls, swirls and a loaf. The range spans individually-wrapped rolls and swirls for consumers on the move.

It’s not only bakery that fits into the luxury weekend trends. Kellogg’s has its sights set on this market with a luxury granola cereal joining its Crunchy Nut range. Available in two flavours, the Crunchy Nut Glorious Oat Granola is available in a zipper pouch at £2.99 for 380g. Backing the launch is a £2.2m campaign including TV. Innovation brand manager for Crunchy Nut Irene Evans says: “We expect it to be a popular weekend choice with shoppers as its such an indulgent offering so they are more likely to trade up from their usual breakfast choice.”

Fruit juice fits nicely within this trend, too, as it manages to be both sweet and healthy, with sales boosted by the fact it counts towards customers’ five-a-day. “Currently, 95% of juice consumption is in the home, with a large proportion choosing it as the drink of choice over breakfast,” says Graham Breed, convenience sector marketing director for Princes.

While statistics show that breakfasting at home is big news, there’s still plenty of scope to capture those customers looking to grab food to go. Mintel’s research shows that people aged 16-24 are four times as likely to eat breakfast at their desk - which means they’re looking to buy something convenient on the way into work.

HIM managing director Tom Fender describes breakfast food to go as a “big opportunity” within the convenience channel. “Of the 2,500 shoppers we spoke to for our Food-to-go Programme, a third said they would buy a breakfast meal deal if it were available. This was even higher for shoppers visiting a forecourt or coffee shop,” he says.

“This shopper is likely to be alone and travelling to work, and will walk past a store, or visit a forecourt en route 44% of shoppers said they decided to visit their food-to-go outlet as they were passing by.”

Traditionalists who baulk at breakfast biscuits will be pleased to know that sausages, bacon and eggs aren’t dropping off the breakfast menu altogether, they’re just evolving to meet the needs of modern consumers. For instance, Wall’s has now entered the breakfast snacking category with its new microwaveable Breakfast Muffin and Sausage Bap. It may not quite be a full English - but for consumers looking for a swift morning meat hit, it’s the next best thing.•

A healthy start


For many families, the battleground at breakfast is all about health versus taste. Kids may be better off with plain porridge - but many prefer sugary cereal. Likewise their parents might know wholemeal bread is considered healthier, but plump for a chocolate croissant anyway.

It’s a tricky area for brands - although many understand that there’s cash in health-conscious products. Mintel says that the lucrative AB demographic is the section of the public most likely to seek out healthy products, and pay a premium to get them.

These savvy consumers already know about the health benefits of porridge, and they’ll be trying to pass them on to their children by buying one of the new generation of kid-friendly porridge lines such as Quaker Oats’ Paw Ridge Porridge Oats, which has a finer consistency that’s friendlier for younger palettes.

Anchor Butter has added healthy variants to its range too, with the arrival of Anchor Unsalted Block Butter for shoppers to slick over their toast. Says senior brand manager Louise Turnball: “The unsalted block sub-category is growing by 29% in value and we know there is a demand for Anchor Unsalted among our Anchor loyalists, as well as new consumers.”

Eating fruit at breakfast is a simple way to go healthy. In 2012 Princes, the canned fruit specialists, launched a social media project to promote its products to parent bloggers.

“Canned fruit provides a nutritious, convenient value-for-money option,” says Graham Breed, convenience sector marketing director for Princes. “An additional advantage of canned fruit is that it is always on hand and doesn’t run the risk of becoming mouldy like fresh fruit.”


Ones to watch

Milk round

Warburtons has revamped packaging of its Milk Roll to include a child-friendly design. The packs include messaging to communicate the product’s credentials including health benefits and usage. The packaging features a round cow, clouds and trees.

rrp: 96p

tel: 0800 243 684

Phat of the land

Deskfasting wage slaves can save themselves some time in the mornings and get off to a healthy start with new Phat Porridge. The porridge comes in a convenient one-pot format (complete with spoon) that’s just as quick to make as a cup of coffee.

rrp: £1.25

tel: 01908 217257

The big breakfast

Customers burdened with a hangover and hankering after a substantial breakfast, or those who like to breakfast like kings, should appreciate Birds Eye’s new range of frozen Hash Brown Waffles. By mashing up two brekkie favourites they’re hoping for big retail rewards.

rrp: £1.49

tel: 0800 33 22 77

Red hot

For purists who reckon ketchup is essential for any hot breakfast, Wall’s new microwaveable Sausage Bap comes with a convenient sachet of the red stuff. It joins a Breakfast Muffin made up of a succulent Wall’s sausage topped with an egg and cheese slice.

rrp: £1.99

tel: 01784 430 777

Good intentions

Kellogg’s slimming brand Special K now includes a chocolate cereal made with real chocolate curls, aimed at slimmers who want more variety at breakfast time. It contains half the fat of other adult chocolate cereals and its launch will be backed by a £2m multimedia campaign.

rrp: £2.69

tel: 0161 869 2000