Nutritionists are always saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The reason? Well according to studies, people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight, they have a higher intake of key vitamins and minerals, and are less likely to suffer from colds than those who skip it. However skip it we do. According to Kellogg’s Mind the Gap report, 23.5 million adults and almost four million children miss breakfast regularly. Time - or rather lack of it - is a key factor, with many people dashing out of the house in the morning on an empty stomach. But this is, of course, good news for forecourt retailers who can offer customers the chance to fill up on fuel, for their cars and themselves, on the way to work.

The aforementioned lack of time means that, for most people, the full English has been consigned to the weekend or as a holiday treat. However forecourts that offer hot savouries and bacon baps are doing a roaring trade (see case study on page 38). Indeed Stephen Clifford, marketing controller at Country Choice, says sales of his company’s breakfast-related products are growing at almost 100% year on year. "We have seen sales of bacon and sausages double in the past 12 months. And the provenance trend has now reached the breakfast arena as consumers look for things like back bacon and Cumberland sausage," he explains. And he heaps praise on retailers who have been quick to seize the breakfast opportunity by upping their game.

"Yes, the quality of the products has improved immeasurably," he says, "But retailer initiatives such as quality bean-to-cup coffee, self-serve packaging and sophisticated equipment solutions that allow a fast delivery at point of sale, have all enabled retailers to match consumer expectations."

== Bowls of goodness ==

For many consumers, breakfast means cereals - whether they eat them at home, buy a snack pot on the way to work, or have a packet on standby for when they get to work.

According to Weetabix’s Breakfast Cereal & Cereal Bar report 2007, the cereal and cereal bar market is worth £1.2bn and showing strong growth of 9% year on year. The report states that successful innovation has driven this growth combined with strong individual brand performances.

Kellogg’s is the number one cereal manufacturer and has the number one brand - however if you thought that number one brand was its corn flakes, then you’d be wrong. That’s because the best-selling cereal in the UK is Special K, followed closely by Weetabix, then comes Kellogg’s again with Crunchy Nut, then it’s Kellogg’s corn flakes, followed by Coco Pops. Of these brands, both Special K and Weetabix saw strong growth in the year to June 2007, up 8% and 7.9% respectively.

Obviously the breakfast occasion is vital to Kellogg’s continued success, which is why it launched its celebrity-backed Wake Up To Breakfast campaign last summer. This involved footballer-turned-sports-commentator Ian Wright, TV presenter Philippa Forrester and ’Supernanny’ Jo Frost. The idea was to increase sales and consumption of cereal by highlighting the importance of breakfast as fuel for physical and mental ability, and nutrition for general well-being. The three stars are appearing on packs until May.

For retailers, Kellogg’s announced a major relaunch of its convenience business last year, to help them maximise the cereal category and take full advantage of the snacking opportunity.

The overhaul aimed to simplify the range offered to independents. It also tried to increase consumer confidence about pricing via the launch of 14 permanent pricemarked cereal packs and 10 promotional pricemarked snack packs.

== brand news ==

When it comes to brand activity, the top-selling Special K range has recently been strengthened with the launch of Special K Oats & Honey. TV advertising will support it in April and September. Advertising will also be featured on the back of existing Special K packs.

And Coco Pops is boosted by the launch of a Moons & Stars multigrain cereal variant in a chocolate/hazelnut flavour. TV and cinema advertising along with coupon activity supports the launch.

Moving onto Weetabix, and its Ready Brek and Alpen brands have both recently been relaunched.

The Ready Brek packaging has been updated with the return of the iconic Ready Brek ’glow’, plus the original porridge has been joined by a new chocolate variety.

And Alpen has three new products and a modern new look. There is Alpen luxury oat, flakes & clusters containing cherries, pecans, hazelnuts, raisins, oat flakes, toasted oat clusters and rolled oats. Plus there are two new granolas: luxury granola chocolate clusters with dark chocolate chunks, hazelnuts & raisins; and luxury granola cinnamon clusters with cranberries, plums and pecans.

Meanwhile Quaker reports that the hot instant and hot traditional cereal segments are faring well as consumers buy into the cholesterol-lowering properties of oat-based cereals.

Quaker marketing director, Carol Garbutt, says: "Our research shows that when it comes to choosing what to eat for breakfast consumers opt for something that fulfils functional needs - convenient, energy-giving and hunger-busting.

"Women in particular want health, while men are more likely to opt for convenience.

"Despite the increasing focus on health, consumers also expect their cereal of choice to be convenient and quick to prepare and 80% take less than 15 minutes to prepare and eat. In fact 38% of people take less than five minutes and 42% claim it takes them between five and 15 minutes."

Last year Quaker relaunched its cereals range with a £15m consumer campaign together with new products and packaging to create a stronger focus on the naturally healthy properties of Quaker oats.

This was reinforced by a brand partnership with Heart Research UK.

Says Garbutt: "This year we are planning some high-profile initiatives and new product development to drive average weight of purchase across the range. This in turn will be backed by an even bigger level of support than last year."

One of the first things Quaker is doing is launching bigger pack sizes for Oat So Simple to help stop consumers running out of cereal and to encourage them to eat the product more often for breakfast."

Elsewhere Weetabix has been doing its bit to make "cold oats more accessible" with Oatibix. Both Oatibix and Oatibix Bitesize were first launched in 2006. In little more than 12 months, Oatibix was the 15th largest selling cereal in the market. In 2007 Weetabix launched Oatiflakes, which it said was the first cold oat cereal in a flake format.

== Praising the bar ==

According to AC Nielsen, the cereal bars market was worth £287m last year, up 10.2% on the previous 12 months.

Kellogg’s is the brand leader. Interestingly the company says its cereal bars, although based on breakfast cereals, are intended as a snack rather than a breakfast replacement. Its Nutri-Grain is the UK’s biggest brand, worth nearly £40m according to AC Nielsen figures.

The most recent addition to the range is Nutri-Grain Soft Oaties, which is available in a single format which retails at 49p. Support for the product will include TV advertising in April and May, followed by a second burst in October. Kellogg’s will also be partnering with The Sun to give away coupons for free samples in over three million newspapers.

A taste test promotion is currently running on all multipacks of Nutri-Grain, where if consumers’ cravings aren’t satisfied, they get their money back. Kellogg’s is confident that the activity will attract new consumers to the brand.

Quaker’s Garbutt says Quaker Oat Bars are a good example of premium cereal bars that don’t sacrifice health for taste. The Original ’with golden syrup’ and mixed berry flavours are said to contain less sugar than most other cereals bars and boast a high oat content. They also have a moderate Glycaemic Index (GI) rating, meaning they help keep you fuller for longer.


=== yogurt Drinks on the up ===

TNS data reveals that yogurt drinks’ share of drink occasions at breakfast almost doubled between 2004 and 2006, and although the growth in yogurt’s share of consumption at breakfast hasn’t been quite so dramatic, it’s moving in the right direction having increased by 28% over the same period.

Muller UK marketing director, Chris McDonough, says: "As well as providing dairy goodness and a good source of calcium, the fact that yogurt and yogurt drinks are convenient ’grab and go’ breakfast options also opens up breakfast sales opportunities for forecourt retailers, particularly those with a high volume of early-morning customers.

"Research carried out during the development of new Müller One A Day showed that consumers saw it as an ’any time of day’ drink, however one in five people viewed it as a breakfast product."


=== Case study: Rusdene Services ===

Rusdene Services recently invested thousands of pounds on a Bake n Bite ’shop within a shop’ concept at its Lee-on-Solent, Budgens store.

Sales director Oli Lodge explains: "The area needed investment because consumers expect a much better hot food offer nowadays."

He says breakfast is increasingly important when it comes to hot food sales: "We open at 6.30am and always have an early morning rush of commuters. That’s followed by builders coming in at 10.30am or 11am for a mid-morning snack."

The All Day Breakfast Bap at £2.19 is the best seller - Lodge says they get through 50 or 60 a day. However it’s not for those with a light appetite as it contains bacon, sausage, omelette and hash brown. Also popular are the bacon and the sausage baps. And Lodge says it’s not just men who are buying them: "You’d be surprised at how many women go for a bacon bap!

"Before we put in the Bake n Bite offer we didn’t really have a breakfast trade but now we sell about 120 breakfast solutions a day," says Lodge.

The shop also does a good trade in Danish pastries but Lodge says they sell best at weekends.