It might be dubbed the most important meal of the day, but busy UK consumers are increasingly prone to leaving home without eating breakfast. Research by Datamonitor shows that nearly one third of UK consumers are missing breakfast at home - on average that’s 114 per person per year. And the report predicts that by 2010 a greater number of working consumers are likely to either skip breakfast altogether or eat out-of-home.
The good news for forecourts however, is that these hungry, time-strapped consumers are bound to be on the lookout for a convenient food stop once they’ve got going for the day. The challenge is to make sure you have the right products to attract them.
Many retailers now have a hot food offer and for some, breakfast will be the busiest period of the day, particularly if a site is on a commuter route. Carine Munch, marketing manager at Country Choice, says it’s important to assess your customer profile, looking at footfall, demographics and local competition before implementing any food-to-go solution. "This will directly affect the size of the equipment required and the type of products you sell," she says.
Country Choice can provide an extensive range of breakfast products under its Bake & Bite brand. These include breakfast baps, hot filled baguettes and savouries, such as the brunchie bake, which can offer margins of 45-50%. Retailers can also create their own products using ingredients supplied by Country Choice.
Darren Bebb, owner of the Nisa Express forecourt at Minsterly, near Shrewsbury, is running a very successful Bake & Bite breakfast operation selling just three hot products: a sausage or a bacon bap for £1.99, or a combination of the two for £2.29. "We established that these were the most popular products and despite ours being what some might consider a limited range, we sell an average of 20 a day with very healthy margins," he says. "Most of our breakfast trade comes from people on their way to work in Shrewsbury, so our busiest period is between 6am and 8am. By around 10am the consumer’s mood has changed and sales switch to pastry products like sausage rolls."
Munch adds: "Remember also that although customers may be coming in for breakfast, a filled sandwich programme offers the opportunity to sell a lunchtime meal too, saving the customer time and increasing their spend per visit."
Cuisine De France’s new Heat and Eat hot sandwich range includes breakfast-oriented lines, such as a ham & cheese toastie and bacon & sausage baguettes. Part of the company’s newly-launched Cuisine to Go concept, these pre-filled sandwiches are delivered frozen and heated as required in around 90 seconds using the new Cuisine to Go advanced heat technology oven. David Girdler, marketing director, says: "We believe this concept is literally the simplest and most effective way to launch a food-to-go offer in store."
Some customers might like to start the day with a Continental breakfast. Croissants are a popular choice, and Cuisine De France reports that sales are growing by 33% year-on-year. The company has just launched some indulgent pastry products, including a mini croissant selection in three flavours - chocolate, almond and lemon - for customers to pick and mix. Also new is the Palmier, a heart-shaped sweet butter pastry.
Cereals remain one of the most popular breakfast foods and manufacturers are increasingly adapting their offers to cater for people on the move.
Kellogg’s has led the way with Twin Pots, which contain a single serving of cereal and milk. The company says it sells around 365,000 cases a year, with Crunchy Nut the most popular variant. Cornflakes and Frosties are also available in the format.
Ennis Foods, meanwhile, has just relaunched its Rumblers range of cereal pots, which come in two types: cereal and low-fat natural bio yogurt, available in four varieties; and cereal with fresh semi-skimmed milk, in three varieties, all retailing at £1.19.
The range has retained its patented carton-to-carton pack format, but now has a clear top pot so that customers can see the different cereal types inside. The new packs are colour-coded and designed to have better stand out on shelf. Managing director Alan Cunningham, says: "By moving away from using traditional, cereal-box style photography on-pack, we hope to provide a point of difference and communicate the premium quality of Rumblers. The portable nature of the products makes the range ideal for forecourts and c-stores, where people are looking to grab breakfast or a healthy snack on the run." The relaunch is being supported by sampling activity, consumer PR and radio and press competitions.
Porridge oats are one of the fastest growing parts of the total cereal market, thanks primarily to their healthy credentials. Two companies are capitalising on this and providing on-the-go solutions.
Danby’s Foods has linked with TV chef Brian Turner to produce a range of chilled porridge pots, which form part of its Meals on the Move range. The microwaveable 270g pots come in cases of six and are available in three flavours: classic porridge, Bramley apple & sultana and butterscotch & maple syrup (rrp £1.29).
The New Covent Garden Food Co also offers ready-to-heat fresh porridge. Its 200g single-serve pots have a heat-resistant sleeve, making them safer to hold when hot, and come in original and honey flavours (rrp 99p).
BETTER BAR NONE
Cereal bars are also a quick and easy option for busy consumers, although Kellogg’s, which has the largest share of the market, says they’re not intended to replace a proper breakfast. However they’re being eaten, cereal bars remain in strong growth, with sales up 15.3% year on year, according to IRI data.
Old favourite Nutri-Grain strawberry is still the top-selling impulse bar, says Kellogg’s, while brand extension Oat Baked Bars was launched last year to provide a more substantial offer. Crunchy Nut Nuts About bars are also available as impulse singles.
However Eat Natural is the fastest-growing snack bar, according to TNS data. For 2007 the brand’s marketing support spend is being doubled to £1m and activity will include consumer press advertising for the first time. The company majors on its healthy credentials, with each bar packed with chunky nuts and juicy dried fruit.
Finally, some consumers may choose to go for a liquid breakfast and this is helping to drive sales of fruit-packed smoothies.
PJ Smoothies, owned by Pepsico, has specifically targeted the breakfast occasion with its latest launch, Fruit Kick. This is a 100ml smoothie shot designed to provide the first portion of fruit and veg of the day. It is currently available in a six-shot multipack in two flavours: strawberries & blackcurrants and oranges, mangoes & pineapple. A new pomegranate, raspberry & cranberry flavour has also been added to PJ’s 250ml and 1ltr bottles range.
For retailers who are really serious about capitalising on the smoothie trend, Country Choice has launched a new smoothie bar concept.
The package includes ingredients - supplied and used from frozen to minimise wastage; equipment (freezer, fridge, blender and overhead menu); packaging and pos. Smoothies can be made in less than a minute - the operator just adds a cup of fruit, a cup of juice and either half a banana or a scoop of low-fat yogurt and blends for 45 seconds.
=== COUNTRY CHOICE BREAKFAST TOP 10 ===
1. Bacon & cheese turnover
2. Large sausage roll
3. Brunchie bake
4. Bacon bap
5. Sausage bap
6. Bacon & omelette bap
7. Bacon, sausage, omelette & rosti bap
8. Butter croissant
9. Maple pecan plait
10. Chocolate croissant
=== contacts ===
CUISINE DE FRANCE
NEW COVENT GARDEN FOOD CO
0800 389 4415