How Fast-Food Capitalized on Changing Breakfast Needs

Many consider breakfast to be the most important meal of the day, but the needs of morning consumers are evolving. Fast-food operators have recognized these changes and stepped up to fill the gaps, providing healthy, inexpensive breakfast options for on-the-go Canadian consumers.

Although 73% of Canadian breakfast consumers acknowledge that it is unhealthy to skip breakfast, just 40% say they eat breakfast every day, according to Technomic’s latest Canadian Breakfast Consumer Trend Report. Consumers say a lack of time is the main reason for skipping breakfast and that they visit their primary away-from-home source for breakfast because it’s located close to home, work or school.

Fast-food chains, with their drive-thru service and convenient locations, have been able to fill this need. Another need they fill, especially during the weekday, is a value oriented meal, as consumers hesitate to dine out for breakfast mainly because of price concerns.

Healthful handheld options—fruit, wraps, paninis, sandwiches, bagels—are an area of opportunity for limited-service restaurants to entice consumers to buy breakfast away from home. According to Technomic’s 2014 Future of LSR: Fast-Food and Fast-Casual Restaurant Consumer Trend Report, younger consumers are open to alternative breakfast proteins such as chicken sausage or turkey bacon as these consumers make healthfulness a priority. Consumers are also looking a freshness, sourcing and function of food as part of the value equation.

A&W, a Canadian favourite for burgers, is now offering consumers organic, free-trade coffee, blended and roasted for the chain by a Montreal-based roaster. The chain has already introduced beef raised without the use of hormones or steroids, chicken raised without antibiotics, and eggs from hens fed a vegetarian diet without animal by-products.

McDonald’s Canada has a strong McCafé program with a focus on coffee, the breakfast daypart’s leading beverage, but that also includes smoothies, a fast-growing beverage for breakfast. McDonald’s decision to extend its breakfast hours has made its program more accessible to consumers who enjoy breakfast foods beyond very early in the morning.

Subway offers breakfast options that are under 200 calories as well as egg white breakfast sandwiches and flatbreads. And, as at other dayparts, consumers have options to customize their breakfast sandwiches through Subway’s assembly-line format.

Fast-food operators have leveraged the speed and convenience of their format by offering on-the-go breakfast options that have the value consumers are looking for at this daypart. Full-service operators might consider how they can offer fast or portable options, or take the reverse strategy and focus their morning meal on the dining experience that occurs more often on the weekend.

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Patrick Noone

With more than 15 years of experience in the research/consulting industry, Patrick Noone, Executive Vice President, Business Development, is integrally involved in the sales, development and marketing of Technomic's online resources, reports and custom studies—tools that provide clients with actionable industry data that supports their strategic and tactical business planning processes. He also manages Technomic's Business Development and Client Service teams.

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