Making the best of breakfast sales

The traditional Full Monty breakfast – whether it’s billed on the menu as a Full English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish  – remains an essential part of the menu for almost every catering and foodservice business that targets trade at the start of the day. However, menu trends are broadening, and it makes sense for operators to expand the breakfast offer to ensure it has maximum customer appeal.

Although that full cooked breakfast is the most popular choice for consumers eating out, it has seen its share of menu sales fall, despite growing sales of breakfast in the foodservice sector overall. One reason for this is that more people than ever now grab breakfast on-the-go, according to new research by consumer analyst Kantar.

The number of takeaway breakfasts sold grew by 9.5% over the last year, to 263m in total. Breakfast to go is also an increasingly popular option with younger consumers, with Kantar’s figures showing that 40% of carried out breakfasts were bought by those aged 16 to 34, and this age group’s consumption of takeaway breakfasts grew 35% in the last year.

However, as most operators are only too aware, these younger consumers have an increasingly complex range of expectations when they eat out, and that’s as true at the start of the day as it is at any other time. On particular concern is health, and this trend towards healthier eating is seeing breakfast choices evolve, with dishes such as cereal, eggs, fruit salads and bagels all increasingly popular.

A recent Mintel survey also shows that younger consumers are reducing the amount of milk they drink, and switching to dairy-free alternatives such as oat, coconut and almond milks. Mintel found that 37% of consumers aged 16 to 24 have reduced the amount of  standard cow’s milk they used in the last 12 months, primarily for health reasons.

All this throws down a challenge to operators when it comes to ensuring their breakfast menu appeals to this new breed of health conscious consumers, but it also creates  opportunities to expand sales. Ideas for broadening breakfast choices include:

  • Offer dairy substitutes as a choice with cereals and porridge, whether as eat-in or takeaway choices;
  • Don’t forget the hot drinks menu when it comes to offering dairy-free as a choice;
  • Make fruit salads to add value to fresh, seasonal fruit. Produce suppliers may have smaller or misshapen fruit at good value prices, which can be used to make fruit salads and smoothies, while also reducing food waste.
  • Offer honey as a natural alternative sweetener to sugar and artificial sweeteners;
  • Eggs are seen a healthier choice, while still being indulgent for consumers looking for a breakfast treat. A menus of options such as eggs benedict and eggs florentine will appeal beyond breakfast into the brunch and light lunch market;
  • For takeaway sandwiches, offer bagels, wraps and other choices seen as healthier alternatives to the standard sliced loaf;
  • Ensure all takeaway boxes, as well as cups for hot drinks on-the-go, are sustainable.


Lighter and healthier breakfast choices can be offered without neglecting the core breakfast menu. The classic cooked breakfast still has huge customer appeal, so operators should ensure they’re making the most of the opportunity.

Work with a supplier who can help with local and regional specialities such as sausages, bacon black pudding and eggs, to create a premium breakfast offer that will help the breakfast menu stand out. It’s also Important to ensure that high quality vegetarian alternatives are available for those customer who prefer a meat-free fry up.

In this competitive market, getting the breakfast offer right doesn’t just ensure that customers have a great start to their day, it also helps to maximise trading potential and keep the business on a profitable footing whatever the time of day.

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