Breakfast is big business for retailers these days, with research showing that an increasing number of people are grabbing their first meal of the day out of the home. According to Mintel’s ‘Snacking on the Go’ report (April 2004), ‘breakfast is the most missed meal for many consumers, who do not have the time or the will to prepare a meal in the morning’.
Moreover, Raj Tugnait, marketing director of Country Choice, says forecourts that cater to these consumers can earn a substantial chunk of their turnover as a result: “With longer working hours and increased journey times, consumers are spending more and more time in their cars. As a consequence it is not uncommon for the breakfast period (7am-11am) to contribute up to 40% of a forecourt’s food on the move turnover.”
For forecourts, one of the main profit centres when it comes to breakfast is the bake-off.
Country Choice’s Tugnait says that while lunchtime products remain popular, the growth is currently coming from breakfast goods in forecourts. “Over the past two-and-a-half years, sales of Country Choice breakfast items, such as hot breakfast baps, have seen the biggest growth,” he says.
And Kate Raison, marketing director at Bakehouse, says one reason for this is simply today’s busy lifestyles: “Longer working hours mean that many people no longer have the luxury of breakfast at home,” she says. “This provides convenience retailers with an excellent opportunity to tempt customers on the way to work with the delicious aroma of freshly baked products.”
For a successful bake-off over the breakfast period, Raison recommends baking little and often: “Not only does this create a delicious aroma, it also ensures a selection of warm and fresh products to encourage impulse purchases.”
Over at Country Choice and breakfasters are being specifically targeted as part of the relaunched Bake & Bite brand.
“Bake & Bite now holds an individual message for each and every consumer,” explains Tugnait. “Consumers like ‘school run mum’, who wants a local c-store where she can purchase a tasty treat, or ‘Bob the builder’, who perceives Bake & Bite as a stop-off point for a filling breakfast.”
Country Choice’s most popular breakfast products include breakfast baps, bacon & cheese turnovers, brunchie bakes, sausage rolls and hot filled baguettes. “Retailers can create their own hot breakfast products using individual ingredients supplied by Country Choice such as a bap with bacon, omelette or pork sausage,” says Tugnait. He adds that many forecourt retailers can improve their hot breakfast product offering by making things quicker and easier for the consumer.
“This includes the use of self-service merchandising units like those incorporated in the new Bake & Bite brand. These units allow products to be displayed wrapped and ready-to-go, so there is no queuing and consequently consumers are in and out in no time. And self-service means few staff – a big benefit to the retailer.”
Tugnait says that making products easier to eat and less messy is another way for retailers to improve their offering and one which Country Choice has addressed with innovations such as effective, hygienic packaging which makes products easy to eat with minimal mess.
Over at Cuisine de France, innovation has also been focused on making products easy to handle and eat on the go, with hand-held savouries the latest addition to the Pierre’s sub-brand. All of these products now come with a bar-coded ‘holder’ packaged in the box .
And breakfast is high on the list when it comes to recipes. The new range of Pierre’s savoury bars includes the breakfast bar, with chopped tomatoes, diced pork sausages, scrambled egg and bacon pieces in puff pastry, while the ‘sausage & egg brekkie pop’ is made of pork sausage slices and scrambled egg in a crispy pizza dough.
So, can the average independent retailer afford to invest in bake-off? According to Tugnait, the answer is yes. “Forecourt retailers should not be put off by the cost of entry into the sector,” he says. “Initial investment can be as little as £2000. And with margins of around 40-60% this means that readily achievable sales of £500 to £1,000 per week will see a return on investment in as little as six months.”
Cereal bars should now be on all forecourts’ shelves and their ingredients and portability make them an ideal breakfast on the go product. Furthermore, consumers tend to see cereal bars as a healthy option, and this is becoming an increasingly important consideration to today’s shopper. According to Mintel (‘Snacking on the Go’, April 2004): “The cereal bar sector has benefited from the consumer perception of these snacks as a healthier option when compared to confectionery”.
Whatever its appeal, the breakfast bar market is currently worth £112m and is growing by 21% (value) year on year, according to Jordans.
No wonder, then, that the company has several new products on the market.
Ideal for forecourts are Jordans’ Break bars – at 40g these are bigger and chunkier than most cereal bars and aimed primarily at men. The chewy bars come in fruit & nut, sultana & honey and apple & sultana, with crispy flakes, juicy fruits and crunchy nuts.
The company has also produced a muesli bar with an eye on the breakfast market, which is made from the same blend of cereals as its popular ‘packet’ muesli. “The Special Muesli Bar has been designed to meet consumers’ increasing demand for convenience breakfasts that can be eaten on the hoof,” says Nicky Carlyle, marketing manager at Jordans UK. “It is a premium product that will drive category value in the breakfast bar market. Made from Jordans’ Special Muesli cereal, which is growing 24% year on year (value), the Special Muesli Bar offers consumers a genuine muesli in a convenient, portable format.”
Like Jordans, brands such as Kellogg’s benefit from a long association with breakfast products and its cereal and milk bar range includes tried-and-tested brands such as Special K, Frosties and Corn Flakes – all of which are perfect for time-pushed breakfasters.
The chiller cabinet plays an important role at breakfast time, with sandwiches, pasties and yogurts all popular early-morning choices.
Ginsters has recently relaunched its range of sandwiches and the line-up now includes the breakfast roll – which can be eaten hot or cold; the egg & bacon deep fill sandwich; and the all-day breakfast sandwich.
Larry File, marketing controller at Ginsters, says recent innovations have taken into account the breakfast demand: “The forecourt breakfast market in particular has developed considerably over the past couple of years and we have worked closely with our retailers to ensure that sales opportunities have been maximised. Product development has also been a priority and has enabled us to take advantage of market developments and provide consumers with a variety of products for every snacking occasion.
“The relaunch of our sandwiches this year and the development of new products such as the breakfast roll enable us to provide a complete solution within the chilled cabinet. As price is not the primary driver, it is essential to stock a national premium brand such as Ginsters, that will increase in-store spend and improve cash return from the fixture. Innovation is central to new product development and we are confident these product offerings will strengthen our position in the market.”
To further strengthen the brand, Ginsters is this year investing £6.5m in brand support.
Elsewhere in the chiller, one sector that is doing well at breakfast time is yogurt drinks, which is growing by 27% year on year, (IRI, MAT 22, Jan 2005) and is now worth £8m (Yoplait Dairy Crest total trade estimate).
Last year, Yoplait Dairy Crest repositioned its Yop brand as an ideal breakfast time product, giving it new packaging, a new formulation and a multi-million pound national television advertising campaign.
“Yop is perfect for breakfast as it is smooth, easy to digest, tasty and full of dairy goodness, so consumers can be assured that they are getting a healthy start,” says Sylvia Sidhom, Yop brand manager.
“Yop is simple to consume, with no need for a spoon, and convenient to carry around, making it ideal for people on the go.”
Yop comes in strawberry and raspberry flavours plus a limited edition vanilla variety.