Don't look now: Americans are starting to get adventurous at breakfast. With young adults increasingly demanding grab-and-go options at any time of day, the ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast market is exploding with innovative products and new tastes.
Take, for example, the Chia Company's introduction of their Chia Pod breakfast line— RTE, chia-based breakfast dishes designed to cater to Millennials' demand for healthy offerings, exotic foods and fast, snackified edibles. The line includes two versions of chia-oatmeal mix and one chia-based müesli.
“We know that finding the time to eat a healthy breakfast is difficult for busy people, and for too long the ready to eat breakfast market has been loaded with sugar, artificial flavours and preservatives,“ Chia Company's Australian founder, John Foss, said.
Chia? For breakfast? Heck yes, say many Millennials. Why not? It's something new. And what's next then, quinoa? Well, as a matter of fact… yes.
Breakfast Has Become An All Day Affair. But Then Again, So Has Dinner.
Do traditional meal times mean anything anymore? Some are beginning to wonder. As Americans— and young adults in particular— have switched away from traditional 9 to 5, career jobs and started to work a variety of part-time jobs with odd hours, the lines between breakfast, lunch and dinner have become indelibly blurred.
"Breakfast is the most habitual meal of the day," notes to the American Egg Board. "Many people who went through a drive-thru every morning while working have been weaned of the habit. Those working from home or working multiple jobs probably aren’t on the road during the hours breakfast is served."
As a consequence, consumers have begun to demand breakfast at midnight, lunch at 7 am and dinner at noon. The whole eating world seems to have gone topsy-turvy. And many food producers and restaurants— especially in the QSR sector— are responding.
Following Taco Bell's late night success, many McDonald's franchisees now staff 24-hour drive-thru windows, and some offer breakfast beginning at midnight. New Dunkin' Donuts and Tim Horton's outlets also have 24-hour drive-thrus, offering breakfast any time of day. Not to be outdone, Taco Bell itself responded with a line of breakfast offerings.
Breakfast food ingredients are now being offered as pizza toppings. BJ's, for example, has an omelet pizza. Sbarro has a breakfast pizza; so too does one enterprising Domino's franchise in Dayton, Ohio, which serves the hungry students of the University of Dayton's campus.
The point? The breakfast market is hot. Really hot. Food companies and restaurants that can get on top of the trend and develop new RTE breakfast items can cash in.
Can Customization Help You To Boost Your RTE Breakfast Sales?
We've discussed previously how the opportunity to customize, mix and match ingredients is a big draw for the Millennial crowd. That's easy to do with breakfast foods in a restaurant setting— sub out bacon for sausage on your egg-and-cheese biscuit, add some lettuce or tomato, offer exotic sauces. There are all kinds of possibilities.
So why aren’t more food brands applying this grab-and-go breakfast concept to healthy, organic and non-GMO foods? What about an RTE breakfast that boasted non-GMO, sustainably-raised, ready-to-eat Canadian bacon in the same grab-and-go box with a fresh, artisanal buttermilk biscuit, a sous vide cold-serve egg patty, certified-organic arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and a habanero spice packet?
Why are we limiting ourselves to yogurt-style products, granola, fruit and juices as the epitome of an organic, healthy RTE grocery breakfast? Why are there no good RTE breakfast protein choices? Why can't consumers walk into a grocery and find an array of no-heat, grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches, waiting to be purchased at 9 am, 4 pm, 11 pm, or any old time they feel a hankerin' for a breakfast-type snack?
The RTE breakfast market is growing steadily. Snackification is a rolling trend. Millennials want customizable, healthy, adventurous-tasting, no-fuss choices. Help them out, food industry, and you could see big profits.