While cash-strapped consumers are eating breakfast at home more regularly, the breakfast occasion remains in growth with report company Mintel estimating that one in five adults or one in four full-time workers eat breakfast out of home.

The breakfast occasion can be divided into two areas the early breakfast and the mid-morning snack which, for many people, is simply a late breakfast, and can account for up to 30% of food-to-go sales, according to Country Choice.

Stephen Clifford, marketing controller at Country Choice, which supplies the Bake & Bite brand, says: "The core consumers of out-of-home breakfasts are commuters either by car or public transport with government figures showing both miles driven and passenger journeys continuing to grow. So for shops near construction sites, offices, transport hubs, industrial estates or on busy A roads, a hot breakfast offering is vital, and the earlier the start the better at least 7am, if not before. Outlets that offer hot breakfasts will often get a reputation locally and quickly build up a loyal and regular customer base."

Clifford says that breakfast products for forecourts generally fall into two categories: savoury, which primarily includes breakfast baps; and sweet cakes or pastries, which mainly comprises croissants and muffins.

Both product categories are complemented by hot beverages, with coffee taking the lion’s share of sales.

"Hot breakfast baps such as bacon baps, sausage baps and combinations thereof have a core customer base of manual workers in general, with white van man and builders being good examples," says Clifford.

"And it’s not just the breakfast bap that these customers will buy. Tea/coffee and a newspaper normally accompany the bap purchase."

The Country Choice breakfast bap programme comprises a series of components including bacon, sausage, omelette, bap and packaging, which can be assembled in various combinations and held hot for up to two hours in an appropriate self-serve display unit. Other must-stock products are bacon & cheese turnovers and sausage rolls, and the company has just added the new breakfast turnover to the range. This on-the-go breakfast snack combines a rasher of unsmoked back bacon, a chipolata pork sausage and a mini omelette in a puff pastry wrap.

Cuisine de France, meanwhile, offers a range of hearty food-to-go breakfast products such as pork sausages, bacon, omelettes and hash browns, as well as baps, muffins, bagels and demi baguettes. All of these products provide the retailer with the flexibility to offer a range of products from bacon baps to breakfast muffins. In addition, the food-to-go range includes a variety of savoury pastries from ham & cheese croissants to bacon & cheese turnovers all ideal for breakfast on the go.

For retailers without full kitchen facilities, the hot breakfast wrap from Impress Sandwiches is a quick and easy solution to serving a grab-and-go breakfast. The breakfast wrap, which heats on a panini grill in four to six minutes, is filled with egg, sweetcure bacon, Lincolnshire sausage, sliced mushrooms, Cheddar cheese and tomato ketchup, wrapped in a tomato tortilla.

On the confectionery side of breakfast, Cuisine de France offers an extensive range of morning goods from croissants and pain au chocolat to Danish pastries and the new Toblerone Pastry, for shoppers looking for a more indulgent breakfast treat. The Toblerone Pastry is the UK’s first branded pastry treat and combines the finest all-butter pastry with smooth, Swiss chocolate.

It’s traditional French bakery products like these that are becoming increasingly popular with British consumers, according to a new report from Mintel. "That growth appears to be driven in part by a trend towards all-day consumption, but also as an accompaniment to coffee at breakfast," says Country Choice’s Clifford. "A coffee and a croissant or muffin is, for many people, their regular breakfast, usually picked up on the way in to work. There is a slightly female bias to consumption and general popularity among office workers.

"Retailers near offices or educational establishments often do a good trade in coffee and croissants/muffins starting before 9am but extending to late morning for those consumers who choose to take breakfast later."

"Coffee, and it has to be good coffee, is a strong footfall driver and profit generator," adds Clifford. "Good coffee however does not have to be complicated. The Country Choice concept offers bean-to-cup coffee including fresh milk with a choice of two coffee machines. Margins on coffee are very good, in the region of 70% or £1 a cup. Coffee service does not need to be assisted serve either any more. Self-serve machines can deliver what is required so long as they offer bean-to-cup coffee made using fresh milk and the delivery speed is between 25 and 40 seconds."

Scott Martin, managing director at Costa Express, agrees that mornings are a key time for coffee drinkers with around a third of people who use Costa Express machines using them at breakfast time.

"For many people, starting the day with a hit of caffeine is an important part of the morning routine," he says. "Even people who skip breakfast enjoy a morning coffee, and those who do eat something often have an accompanying hot drink."

Over the past 12 months, Costa Express machines have been installed in more than 1,200 locations in the UK including many of the leading national and independent forecourt and motorway service operators. These customers have confirmed the popularity of gourmet coffee at breakfast time and the power of a strong high-street brand to drive sales in these outlets.

"Peak usage of Costa Express machines has consistently been between 6am and 9am," says Martin. "Costa Express is perfect for people en route to work, looking for their morning coffee fix. Around a third of people who use Costa Express machines use them at breakfast time. Although hot drinks are sold throughout the day, particularly in the forecourt sector where motorists break and refuel during long journeys, many people still observe traditional breakfast times.

"Consequently it is important for forecourts to maximise the sales opportunity at breakfast time by promoting a range of speciality coffees and hot chocolate drinks to customers and offering breakfast promotions linked to food items such as bacon rolls, croissants and pastries."

Bakery supplier Lantmannen Unibake is also encouraging forecourts to link its Bakehouse-branded baked goods to hot coffee-to-go. Senior marketing manager Claire Warren says: "The coffee culture has become so well-established that consumers now have a high expectation of forecourts to provide premium coffee and it is here where one of the greatest prospects for upselling and driving profits lies creating a breakfast meal deal solution."

The Bakehouse Viennoiserie range includes best sellers such as the all butter croissant, pain au chocolate and chocolate croissant. The products take 18-20 minutes to bake off from frozen.

Breakfast news

l Milk brand Cravendale is expanding into the food-to-go category with the launch of a 500ml bottle. The new PET bottles are available in whole, semi-skimmed and skimmed variants with a rrp of 75p. Cravendale has also teamed up with Ginsters for the launch of the brand’s first meal deal. Cravendale 500ml will be available to buy with a Ginsters pasty for £2.50 at Rontec forecourts from this month.

l Quaker Oat So Simple has launched Golden Syrup morning bars in two impulse single-serve formats. They’re available in 50p price-marked packs and standard packs, and throughout the summer will be complemented by limited edition £1 price-marked packs across Pepsico’s 330ml juices range, which comprises Tropicana original, Tropicana smooth and Copella English apple.

l Sunmagic has added Fruit2day, a new drinkable snack, to its range of juices, smoothies and juice drinks. Fruit2day uses a special manufacturing process to suspend real fruit in a drink, ensuring a piece of fruit in every mouthful. With a rrp of £1.29, Fruit2day comes in 200ml bottles and sits in the chiller. Flavours include mangoes, peaches & apples and raspberries, grapes & pears.