Breakfast Report: Beyond the Basics

While high egg prices haven't slowed down purchases, consumers are looking for new and unique ways to spice up the first meal of the day.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
Zachary Russell profile picture

Breakfast is known as the most important meal of the day, and with that importance comes consumers’ desire for new and exciting products, particularly ones that are convenient and healthy.

According to experts, similar to categories across the grocery store, convenience and better-for-you, clean ingredient options are reigning supreme among breakfast items.

“Although breakfast is a stable routine for most, there are some consumers willing to break out of the mold to experiment with new flavors and formats,” said Paige Moore, manager of Category Solutions at private brand consultancy firm Daymon. “Consumers are looking to food service for inspiration. Trends we are seeing across departments include sweet and savory pairings, like a Monte Cristo or waffle sandwich, toast toppings beyond avocado, and incorporating fruit and veggies in sweet bakery items.”

Simple Truth chorizo

Kroger’s VP of Our Brands Juan De Paoli said that in the breakfast category overall, customers are looking for fresh items made from cleaner ingredients, citing the growth of the retailer’s Simple Truth brand. In January, Simple Truth marked its 10th anniversary, accounting for more than $3 billion in sales over the past decade.

“Our Simple Truth own brand offers products that do not have unwanted ingredients,” said De Paoli. “We continue to see a growing trend with consumers who are looking for healthy ingredients in the items they buy.”

At Aldi, value-oriented shoppers are searching for convenient and healthy options to eat in the morning. “As our shoppers return to their busy schedules and on-the-go lifestyles, they’re looking for options to get out the door quickly,” said an Aldi spokesperson. “This shift from at-home to in-person activities boosted the popularity of handhelds and convenience items, with waffles, French toast sticks and sausage links being our top three most purchased frozen breakfast food items this year. We’ve also seen increased demand for high-protein, low-sugar and multi-serve Greek yogurt as customers look for yogurts that pack a nutritional punch.”

Aldi omelette bites

The private label-centric discount retailer said it relies on consumer feedback to help determine which limited-edition products to sell permanently.

“Through our ever-changing, limited-time Aldi Finds items, we can test shopper reactions to new breakfast innovations and formats like our popular protein-packed waffles and omelet breakfast bites,” added the spokesperson. “In collaboration with our suppliers, we continue to explore new breakfast ideas and are even testing some of our most exciting Aldi Finds breakfast items in the market to consider making them a permanent fixture in our stores.”

It appears that the trend of convenient, yet healthy foods is here to stay, which is pushing suppliers to innovate with new and unique products. When it comes to better-for-you, convenient breakfast options, Maplegrove Foods, an Ontario, Calif.-based manufacturer, recently debuted a new product for private brands.

The company’s new product allows the consumer to have a protein-filled muffin for breakfast just by adding water to the packaged mix and microwaving it. The product debuted in Strawberry/Vanilla, Chocolate Hazelnut and Blueberry Coconut flavors.

“Our muffins are popular with folks who are looking for more nutritious snacks and others who are on a weight loss or bodybuilding program,” said Raj Sukul, president of Maplegrove Foods. “Bodybuilders who are focused on muscle gain and becoming more defined are steady customers.”

Sukul added that the company created the product in response to growing trends of health and wellness, as well as convenience.

“We are most often asked for popular category foods but with better nutritional value,” he added. “Empty calories, high sugar and salt levels are being pushed by nutrient-dense foods and the most valued nutrient is protein.”

TXB egg and brisket quesadilla

With many Americans back in offices and commuting to work, convenient prepared food options are also an important segment for retailers to consider when crafting a portfolio of breakfast items. Texas Born (TXB), the Texas-based convenience chain, keeps its visitors on their toes when it comes to food options, offering limited-time products that often include hearty, unique, and locally-sourced breakfast items.

“We always gravitate towards better-for-you, on-the-go options when crafting new breakfast menu items with most of our ingredients being Texas-sourced,” said Kevin Smartt, CEO of TXB. “One of our newest limited-time-only items, the Brisket Egg & Cheese Quesadilla, is a breakfast quesadilla stuffed with savory brisket, fluffy eggs and topped with gooey cheese. Our most popular breakfast quesadillas have been our Meaty Breakfast Quesadilla which includes both sausage and bacon, and our Cheesy Chorizo Breakfast Quesadilla.”

In the world of grab-and-go, TXB’s prepared breakfast options are often sold alongside the chain’s private label beverage options. This past September, the chain expanded its beverage options with bottled juices and teas, as well as coffee such as a House Blend and exclusive Southern Pecan roast.

One factor looming over the category has been the price of eggs. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the average price of one dozen large, Grade A eggs began rising in April of 2022, and accelerated in the fall and winter months, peaking at $4.82 in January of this year.

For February 2023, the average price decreased slightly, reaching $4.21. Experts say the price increases are due to a widespread outbreak of avian flu that began in early 2022. However, the increased egg prices haven’t stopped consumers from slowing their purchases on average.

“According to Nielsen, there is 0.8% growth in units for chicken eggs compared to last year, indicating stability because the rise in egg prices has not impacted consumer demand,” said Moore.