Competition for the breakfast spend has never been fiercer. Cafés and coffee shops have been doing it for years but now more pubs and restaurants are promoting morning meals. American/Italian restaurant chain Frankie & Benny, for example, serves breakfast until midday with prices starting at just £3.95 with unlimited tea and coffee for an extra £1.95. And trendy London-based Bombay café Dishoom offers a breakfast menu that includes a bacon and egg naan roll. The choice for the consumer has never been greater, however not all consumers have time to take their seats and spend an hour eating their breakfast. For many people, eating breakfast out-of-home means eating it in the car or on the train or at their desk at work.

"With more people in work and ever busier lifestyles, food-to-go within breakfast continues to grow," says Emma Hunt, marketing manager at Country Choice. "Consumers are looking for convenient, high-quality products and expect variety. Healthy products are a key feature but a core breakfast range including bacon baps, turnovers, croissants and breakfast pots should be an essential part of any retailer’s offer."

She adds that popular food-to-go breakfasts are hot ones, with over half the breakfasts consumed out-of-home being bread-based, and bacon being the number one choice of filling. Country Choice offers a breakfast programme, which enables retailers to quickly and easily create an on-the-go version of the classic cooked breakfast.

"Breakfast is at the very heart of our hot food offer," says Lucy Jordan, operations manager for the Rusdene Group, which includes the Essentials store at Midhurst in West Sussex.

She says the company still sees massive growth potential for breakfast based around two key elements service and customisation.

"Using a wide range of ingredients supplied by Country Choice, we sell in excess of 200 breakfast baps at Midhurst during the course of a typical day, from 6.30am-11pm. And although sausage and bacon baps/baguettes are far and away the most popular items, there is a growing demand from consumers to be able to choose exactly what they have in their breakfast. To give you an example, we have some customers who ask us to hollow out a Parisienne, butter the inside, and then fill what is basically a shell with sausage and/or bacon.

"We are more than happy to do this but how many cafés or coffee shops would offer that level of customisation and customer service? You wouldn’t believe some of the combinations we get asked for, but being able to satisfy this demand is key because, although we already know that the products are great, we also know that if we get the service bang on too, customers will come back time and time again.

"We know this to be the case because around 75% of our hot food sales are derived from locals, many of whom come at the same time every day, with only 25% attributable to our passing trade.

"To make sure we get the service right, we try to keep the kitchen double-manned and bake little and often which means that the ovens are in constant use. From 6.30am-3pm we offer a ’serve-over’ service and from 3pm-11pm this switches to ’self-serve’ but, regardless of the time of day, there is always availability. During the morning period, one of the biggest successes has been our breakfast boxes. For £4.59 customers get sausage, bacon, black pudding, rosti, omelette, tomatoes, baked beans and onions. But for those who require something more modest, or indeed healthier, we can customise their bap/baguette so it’s exactly how they want it. With or without butter? English or French mustard? With or without ketchup or onions the choice is theirs."

Perfect pastries

The importance of on-the-go pastry options in-store cannot be overlooked according to Vincent Brook, UK retail commercial manager at Aryzta Food Solutions: "Consumer research in the US has shown that 35% of people who eat breakfast on the move would like the option to purchase breakfast items at different times throughout the day, including during lunch, dinner and late at night a trend that we expect will grow in the UK."

He advises retailers to take a ’little and often’ approach to baking. "Firstly, this helps towards reducing wastage as retailers will only bake what they need, rather than baking a huge amount at the start of the day. Secondly, it meets consumers’ needs, as one of their key shopper demands is that there should always be availability of ’fresh’ products. No one wants to buy the last product on the shelf.

"Freshness is a key factor for shoppers. For bigger outlets that are baking more frequently, we recommend including a chalkboard near the in-store bakery to state when the last bake was. This reassures the shopper that the products are freshly baked on site, and can be a real USP for the retailer versus other coffee shops/retail outlets that do not bake on site."

Brook adds that more and more retailers are dual-siting their in-store bakery lines, placing them next to a coffee machine to appeal to shoppers looking for an all-round breakfast solution on the move. "It’s a simple but effective way to boost in-store bakery sales," he explains, reporting that Aryzta’s best sellers with coffee are croissants and maple & pecan plaits.

Tom Mercer, founder of Moma, says convenience and portability are two major factors in today’s breakfast market. "Almost half of the UK adult population don’t eat breakfast at home every day and instead eat at their desk, on the go or even standing. For this reason, we know consumers want breakfast options that are quick and easy, which is why our Moma porridge pots and single-serve sachets have been so incredibly popular all our porridge products contain milk powder so there is no need to add milk or even use a microwave.

"Innovation within the hot cereals market has also been key in keeping consumers’ attention, which is why we’re continuously looking at creating new flavours and including new superfood ingredients in our recipes, providing customers with interesting, all-in-one offerings."

Nutritious start

Mercer says the new Coconut & Chia Porridge Pot has been developed to provide consumers with a ’unique flavour offering’ not commonly seen within the hot cereal market, as well as providing them with a nutritious start to the day.

Gluten free, dairy free and vegan friendly, it is made from a blend of jumbo and fine oats, chia seeds, coconut milk powder and coconut pieces.

Mercer continues: "We know that one in four households now buy plant-based food products and we are seeing an increasing demand for dairy-free options, as consumers look to cut down on their intake for allergy and health reasons. The new Coconut & Chia Porridge Pot has been designed to tap into this growing trend and provide busy consumers with a healthy and satisfying, free-from breakfast option that’s convenient too."

The complete Moma porridge breakfast range is available in pots (rrp £1.30), single sachets (22p 75p), and boxes of five sachets (rrp £2.99), in six flavours Plain, Plain (No Added Sugar), Cranberry & Raisin, Golden Syrup, Super Seeds and Coconut and Chia (pots only).

Moma has also introduced a new high- protein Yog-Oat Smoothie, aimed to appeal to consumers who are looking for healthy snacks and products to contribute to a balanced diet and complement their busy lifestyles. There are two flavours Strawberry & Banana and Mango & Peach with the smoothie designed to cater to the convenience market by providing a quick and tasty snack in a Tetra Pak for easy drinking on- the-go. Rrp is £1.50.

The new addition replaces Moma’s current Oatie Shake and features a new reformulation and revamped packaging.

"We know that health-conscious consumers are increasingly looking for high-protein products for a number of reasons; for weight loss or weight management, to help keep them going for longer or for post exercise recovery," says Mercer. "Dairy is widely considered to be one of the best quality proteins, so we have specifically developed the Yog-Oat Smoothies to be high in protein, lower in sugar than most smoothies and, of course, sticking to Moma’s promise of being tasty and convenient so they can be enjoyed as part of a busy day."

Brinner winner

Finally, according to Convenience Tracking Programme data from last year, 77% of shoppers believed they would be able to purchase all the ingredients to make a full English breakfast from a convenience store.

But only 48% believed this to be the case in managed forecourts and 56% in symbol forecourts. You may think stocking such items is not that important but many convenience retailers report an uptake in purchases of breakfast items at weekends when people are treating themselves to a full English. But what is even more interesting and important to consider is the rise of the ’brinner’ where consumers eat breakfast foods for their dinner.

Cancer Research, in support of its Britain’s Biggest Breakfast fundraising campaign, undertook a survey which found that 80% of Brits had eaten typical breakfast foods for dinner with a third of them doing so at least once a week. Top ’brinner’ choices were eggs (35%), toast (33%) and a bacon sandwich (28%), while 26% of Brits said they’d even eaten cereal for their evening meal.

Sausage success

To help forecourt retailers take advantage of the current breakfast-on-the-go trend, Rollover added the Lincolnshire Breakfast Sausage Dog to its range. It’s a pre-cooked 80% pork sausage with sage, parsley and thyme, that’s easy to serve as it heats from frozen in Rollover’s free-on-loan steamer or bain-marie so is ideal for an early morning offer.
And it’s proving to be a great success in forecourts. Michelle Evans, manager at a Petrogas site in Merthyr Tydfill, says: "Rollover’s Breakfast Sausage Baguette is a great addition to our hot dog range.
"We switch on our Rollover steamer first thing in the morning and sell plenty between 6am and 11am.
"The taste is really nice and consumers love it. It brings incremental sales as it’s helped to recruit new customers. We sell, on average, 75 a week in addition to the regular hot dogs."
And Joe Burn, manager at Ron Perry and Sons on the A19, says: "We used to sell 50 hot dogs a day.
"Now, since introducing the breakfast sausage, we sell over 60 units across both lines. It’s a great addition to the range and a perfect fit for our meal deal."