Ask 20 different people what they have for breakfast and chances are you’ll get 20 different answers. And that’s because a lot of us don’t get time for a sit-down breakfast in the mornings and instead have to opt for breakfast on the run. So that breakfast could be a banana, a cereal bar, or even a sandwich. Obviously all this is good news for forecourt stores as consumers grab something convenient on their way into work.
Cereals are still the most popular food for breakfast, but they’re not always convenient for people in a hurry. Kellogg’s offers a range of cereals-on-the-go in pots complete with milk, plus, of course, its cereal bars. The cereal bar category is now worth £251m and is still experiencing year-on-year double-digit growth. Innovation drives the market and Kellogg’s reports that there are still a large number of consumers to attract, as household penetration stands at just 55%.
Kellogg’s latest launch is of All-Bran High Fibre bars. The company has identified inner-health as being important to the adult market - research has found that the over-35s are actively trying to eat more fibre to improve their inner health. The new All-Bran Bars contain 12% fibre, which is more than that found in two and a half bananas and, Kellogg’s claims, more than any other cereal bar.
Another recent launch was of Nutri-Grain Oat Baked Bars. Designed to compete with flapjacks, the bars are aimed at consumers who want a wholesome, tasty and substantial snack.
Talking of wholesome foods, according to a Mintel report out last month, porridge is making a comeback. Julie Sloan, senior market analyst, at the research company explains: "The success of porridge is almost entirely due to its convenience and its healthy positioning, both of which are key requirements for food in the 21st century. It is amazing to see this simple staple now giving more modern and seemingly more adventurous cereals a real run for their money."
Two companies are combining two trends (breakfast on the move and the popularity of porridge) by offering porridge-to-go.
Danby’s 270g microwaveable ready-to-eat breakfast Porridge Pots contain real porridge oats and natural ingredients, which give consumers B vitamins, iron, calcium, protein and fibre. The pots come in classic porridge, apple & sultana and maple syrup varieties.
Then there is New Covent Garden Food Co’s range of fresh porridge. It comprises four varieties: original, honey, maple syrup and citrus. The 200g single-serve pots have a recommended retail price of 89p.
Marketing director, Nigel Parrott, says New Covent Garden Co has used its expertise to create a delicious porridge that is low in fat, calories and salt, but high in fibre.
"It’s the ideal breakfast for people who want to eat healthily, but who also want the convenience and great taste of fresh, ready-to-eat food."
Sandwiches, though more readily associated with lunch, are also popular as a breakfast item. Indeed Ginsters’ All Day Breakfast Roll was launched last autumn in response to consumer demand for a breakfast snack. The fresh white roll contains smoked sweet-cure bacon, Lincolnshire sausage and egg, and is finished with tomato ketchup and mayonnaise. It can be eaten hot or cold.
Ginsters’ marketing controller, Larry File, says the roll was part of a range developed to encourage sandwich buying throughout the winter months. Other popular breakfast lines include Ginsters’ Deep Fill egg & bacon and Deep Fill bacon, lettuce & tomato.
Something that you definitely shouldn’t overlook when thinking about your breakfast offer is yogurt drinks. That’s because this sector is showing very strong growth, at 41%, mainly driven by functional drinks. Yop, which is growing at a rate of 3.4% year-on-year and has a current value of more than £6.5m, is definitely a brand to stock. That’s because Yoplait Dairy Crest is marketing Yop as an ideal breakfast time product. Angelica Costantini, Yop senior brand manager, explains: "Consumers are increasingly opting for the healthy alternatives offered by dairy products, especially at breakfast time. Yop is perfect for this occasion as it is smooth, easy to digest, tasty, a good source of calcium and low in fat, so consumers can be assured that they are getting a healthy start to the day."
The product’s convenience and portability is another factor in its favour. Its 330g size is the one to stock, as it is aimed at people on the move.
Meanwhile, the Serious Food Company is launching a new breakfast smoothie. Stephanie Kean, corporate development manager at the company, explains: "Our smoothie is filling and nutritious. It combines pro-biotic yogurt, fresh fruit juices and purees with the 100% superfood goodness of oats." Initially there will be two varieties: banana and raspberry; and Ms Kean recommends retailers merchandise them alongside other juices and smoothies.
Currently The Serious Food Co offers four fruit juice ranges: freshly squeezed juice, fresh fruit crushes, fresh fruit smoothies and fresh yogurt smoothies. The new breakfast smoothies will be available to order from the beginning of May.
Finally, availability of quality, fresh fruit is not something that a lot of forecourts are known for but with Del Monte’s help many more could get a reputation for it. That’s because the company’s foodservice division has launched a new range of Fruit Snacks and Fruit Bites. Del Monte’s Fruit Snacks are fruit pieces in a pot, complete with its own spork. There are three different fruit selections available. Fruit Bites are fresh fruit (apple or apple & grape) packed in small bags.
James Mills, Del Monte Foodservice director says: "The range meets the demands of consumers who want pure, natural, healthy food suitable for eating on the go. This is a convenient and practical way for them to enjoy fruit on the move."
Mills reckons the Del Monte name on pack will encourage sales: "Well-known brands reassure consumers of the taste and quality of the product and can encourage them to choose an item with confidence."
As well as the fruit snacks, Del Monte has launched a new range of smoothies. These are made from 100% fruit, juice and purées. There are four flavours: mango & passion fruit, pineapple & mango, strawberry & banana and berry fruits. They are available in 330ml and 1ltr bottles.
And of course, there’s Del Monte’s stock-in-trade, good old fresh fruit.
If you are going to stock fruit then you’ve got to stock the UK’s favourite - the banana. Ninety four per cent of UK households buy them regularly and their convenience - neatly wrapped and ready to eat - makes them perfect for breakfasts in a hurry.
COMPLETE THE PACKAGE
Katy Hilditch, marketing manager, beverages, at Nestlé FoodServices’, has a simple message for forecourt retailers: "Don’t let your customers disappear with just a petrol sale, when you could provide them with a complete breakfast package."
Starting with tea and coffee, Ms Hilditch believes what’s best for retailers is a quick and simple service mechanism that involves no staff, where customers can serve themselves and pay at the till.
But at the same time, it has to be a brand of recognisable quality, a brand that customers can trust. And that’s where Nescafé.go comes in.
The system comprises a Nescafé-branded dispenser which features Nescafé Gold Blend (black and white as well as decaffeinated), cappuccino, hot chocolate and Tetley tea. Customers simply pull their preferred drink from the dispenser and add hot water. Each 9oz mug-sized cup is foil-sealed for guaranteed freshness, and just needs the hot water added.
What is more, because it has such a small footprint, Nescafé.go can be sited almost anywhere. It doesn’t even need plumbing in. "That means operators can set up their own mini breakfast and snacks bar very easily," says Hilditch. "All that’s needed is a spare surface on which to place the machine. Site a robust commercial microwave alongside it, a paper napkin dispenser, paper plates and maybe some sauce portion packs. Stock up on a selection of the many microwaveable products now available, and you’ve got yourself a breakfast snacks bar."
Ms Hilditch recommends focusing on microwaveable hand-held snacks to avoid the need for cutlery. And if a microwave isn’t an option, then retailers should look at other ready-to-eat items such as muffins and Danish pastries.
"It’s interesting that two-thirds of coffee drinkers consume coffee with food, so it makes sense to promote meal deals to drive more sales. Sell one, and it’s highly probable that you’ll sell the other," she concludes.
The Somerfield forecourt shop in Evesham, Worcestershire enjoys retail sales averaging £4,200 a week from hot food. Forty per cent of these sales come from breakfast products such as hot breakfast baps and baguettes, and freshly baked breakfast savouries such as bacon & cheese turnovers and brunchie bakes.
The store’s hot food offer is done in conjunction with Country Choice." This model represents the best-fit solution I have witnessed to date," says Somerfields’ operations manager, Andy Goracy. "We now offer a wider range which is presented to the customer ready packaged and priced, to encourage impulse purchases. Operationally we have reduced the impact on staffing that cooking on demand - with its high level of customer interaction - requires. Changes to preparation and production still allow for interaction, but also give us more time to focus on availability."
Country Choice’s national accounts manager, Dave Mountford, adds: "Testing in a busy and successful site can be difficult but it tells you very quickly if it works or not. Initially there was some resistance to going ’self-serve’ so it was done in stages, and just six weeks later the site is completely self-serve with both staff and consumers won over by the changes. New self-serve packaging and hot-prep units have enhanced the site’s ergonomics, improved availability and increased the speed of customer service. So much so that sales figures are up by 15% - a major achievement in what was already an established and successful site."
An interesting new trend found at Evesham is for more consumers to buy their lunch at the same time as their breakfast. Dave Mountford believes there are two reasons for this. Firstly, having enjoyed a good, quality breakfast product from the site, consumers are happy to pick up their lunch at the same time on the basis that it is likely to be of a similar high standard. Secondly there is, of course, the sheer convenience of having both breakfast and lunchtime products available at the same time, in the same location.