Consumer Breakfast Trends

As the work landscape continues to evolve, new breakfast routines are emerging. One thing remains universal. Consumers still want to start their day with a good breakfast. The changing face of the work environment–from a wholly in-office experience to the work-from-home and hybrid experience–has led to a shift in how consumers do breakfast.

While the COVID-19 pandemic naturally led to declines in in-restaurant dining, spending on breakfast has since made a comeback. Our Numerator New Frontiers: Stacked Insights on the State of Breakfast report finds workers are increasing their spending on the most important meal of the day, both on Limited Service Restaurants (LSR) and on Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG).

Quick-Serve-Restaurants Welcome Back Hungry Workers

In response to a Numerator survey, nearly 3 in 10 households reported purchasing breakfast from a QSR or a fast food establishment “at least once a week.”

While consumers significantly decreased their spending on LSR breakfasts during the pandemic (down 16% from 2019 to 2020), they are now returning to their LSR favorites and significantly offsetting the losses reported in 2020. Most recently, a L52WK count reflects a spending increase of 32% on LSR breakfast since 2019 for a total spend of $15.4 billion on LSR breakfasts.

breakfast trends

A deeper look at LSR breakfast spend shows that both the LSR drinks–such as coffee and tea–and the LSR breakfast foods categories have seen a recovery in spending at a similar pace to the entire category, although spend on breakfast foods is growing slightly faster than drinks.

coffee and tea breakfast trends

The news is not all good, however. More than one in three respondents reported reducing their spend on LSR and fast food breakfast purchases. Why? Their main reasons were a change in finances or commuter routine.

  • 1/3 reduced their consumption of LSR foods due to a change in finances.
  • 1/3 reduced their consumption of LSR foods due to a change in their commuter routine.

households buying lsr less frequently

Looking forward, more than one in ten (11%) respondents also say they expect to change their breakfast routine in the next three months. Nearly one in three (30%) respondents plan “to be healthier” while 16% of respondents expect changes in their work schedule or office re-openings to impact their breakfast habits.

changing breakfast trends

Breakfast at Home

While Limited Service Restaurants have undeniably welcomed back breakfast lovers, consumers also enjoy breakfast at home. Before the pandemic, 65% of consumers reported eating something at home for breakfast during a typical work week. In the most recent three-month period studied, that number had grown to 71%.

Although spending on Consumer Product Goods (CPG) breakfast foods has not grown at the same rate as LSR spend, neither has the CPG industry seen a proportionate decline as households started shifting their dollars back to LSR. Both CPG food and CPG beverages have seen an increase in sales since the pre-COVID era, with both departments hovering around the inflation rate. In CPG beverages, all categories (coffee, juices, tea, refrigerated beverages and instant breakfast drinks) have seen more sales, with coffee and tea reflecting the highest growth rates.

beverage growth trends

coffee and tea trends

You Are How You Eat

Restaurants and brands seeking to attract breakfast-loving workers should especially pay attention to the demographics of each worker type.

  • Fully Work From Home shoppers tend to be older (30% are Boomers) and more likely to have a high household income. They are also more likely to spend at food establishments, while their CPG buying preferences over-index on baking mixes and breakfast cereal.
  • Hybrid Work From Home shoppers are more likely to be Gez or Millennials and they are more likely to have a very high household income–25.6% make more than $125,000. They are more likely to shop at club and online locations and their CPG buying preferences over-index on nutrition and wholesome bars and refrigerated beverages.
  • Work On-Site shoppers are more likely to be Gen Z and have a lower household income. Notably, on-site workers spend more at mass retail locations. Their buying preferences for CPG products over-index on toaster pastries and nutrition drinks and shakes.

The Takeaway

  • Spending on breakfast, both at LSR and on CPG is increasing, although at a different rate.
  • Consumers who have reduced their spending on LSR breakfasts say their spending is being impacted by finances and/or changes in commuter routine. These changes could signal headwinds that may slow growth in the short term.
  • As workplace routines continue to evolve in the post-pandemic landscape, it is crucial for restaurants and brands to understand and meet the evolving needs of the workforce.

How Numerator Can Help

For more information on the impact of shifting breakfast preferences on your business,your Numerator consultant can help. Contact us today.

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