IRI reports on breakfast trends and winning categories

17 Feb 2022

Breakfast is changing. What was once the domain of bowls of cereal and pancakes came full circle during the pandemic as people once again began consuming breakfast at home. Now, the category is shifting once again toward on-the-go options that shoppers can easily prepare whether or not they are actually stepping out the door, according to a new IRI report.

In the report, total breakfast sales grew 4%, outpacing the growth of total food and beverage, which posted 3% growth. IRI acknowledged that the pandemic has been a primary driver in shifting consumer behavior and repositioning breakfast as an at-home meal time. However, the term for this morning meal as well as what is being consumed is changing.

IRI reports on breakfast trends and winning categories

While 52% of those surveyed said they do not sit down to eat a full breakfast, the report found that 95% of consumers are eating in the morning an average of six days per week. Instead of using the traditional term for breaking the nightly fast, 31% of people are calling their first meal a mini/small breakfast, 23% call it a full breakfast, 21% call it a morning snack and 17% call it a ‘morning fuel up’.

Additionally, what people are consuming is moving away from the premiumization that has dominated market trends over the last several years. Inflation, IRI found, is prompting 43% of those surveyed to pay attention to prices with 24% buying more private label products.

Shifting toward less costly options is not the only change that consumers are making. Classic breakfast foods like cereal, eggs and milk all saw sales declines between 2020 and 2021 or 7%, 4% and 1%, respectively. To take the place of these options, weight control products and frozen breakfast foods have stepped in, gaining 23% and 11% in sales growth between 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The popularity of these easy-to-consume breakfast options trickles over into the weekend for many consumers. IRI found that 52% of consumers say they make their breakfast from scratch on the weekend, but that term includes both heat-and-eat and pre-packaged options.

Regardless of what consumers are choosing to eat in the morning, IRI found that breakfast foods are a habitual choice, and 78% of those surveyed will stick to the same food choices in the morning — a challenge for manufacturers that are innovating in the category.

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