Explore the Endless Opportunities of All-Day Breakfast
Consumers are increasingly enthusiastic about the opportunity to enjoy traditional breakfast items any time of the day, and that gives operators new freedom to showcase morning daypart staples in innovative ways.
A 2021 Harris Poll found that 79% of consumers report eating breakfast outside of the traditional daypart. Younger consumers have embraced the concept of all-day breakfast, as 62% of Gen Z say they like eating breakfast at non-traditional times, including late night, according to Technomic’s 2023 State of the Menu report.
The fact that many breakfast items are considered comfort foods may be at the heart of their all-day popularity. The concept of being able to order breakfast anytime is also nostalgic for many consumers, perhaps reminiscent of childhood meals enjoyed with family.
The trend toward anytime breakfast all day has been building for the past decade in foodservice, and it may have gained new momentum in the wake of the pandemic, as more consumers became accustomed to eating breakfast foods at home throughout the day.
For operators, incorporating breakfast items into the menus of other dayparts can generate excitement among these consumers, and can drive both sales and profitability, given the fact that many breakfast ingredients tend to have relatively low food costs.
Creative Applications Beyond Breakfast
Waffles have been liberated from the breakfast menu, often as an anytime accompaniment to fried chicken and as sandwich carriers. Given the growing popularity of different variations of fried chicken, and the ability to offer multiple varieties of waffles, operators have an opportunity to experiment with a range of dishes that pair these two customer favorites, says Herve Guillard, director of education at the Los Angeles branch of the Institute of Culinary Education.
Korean-style fried chicken, for example, could pair well with waffles to make an appealing dish, he says, as could Southern-style hot fried chicken.
Operators need not limit their proteins to fried chicken when it comes to waffle pairings, however, says Michael Parlapiano, managing director of industry consulting firm The Culinary Edge.
“It’s no secret that the sweet-savory combination of smoky bacon and maple syrup is a match made in heaven, so a great place for concepts to explore breakfast outside of the morning daypart is with slow-smoked barbecued pulled pork, a perfect topping for cornbread waffles and served alongside apple compote,” he suggests. “For something a bit more unexpected, a classic Mexican protein like carnitas or chorizo can make a great foil for the sweet backdrop of a plain waffle with spicy maple syrup.”
Waffles aren’t alone in their migration to other dayparts. Pancakes, as well as traditional breakfast sandwich carriers such as biscuits, bagels and croissants, have also expanded their presence on lunch, dinner and snack menus.
These dishes often include traditional morning-daypart proteins such as bacon or breakfast sausage, whether layered into a sandwich, scrambled into a bowl or folded into a burrito or wrap. In addition, eggs also provide an ideal vehicle for bringing the flavor of breakfast to other dayparts, says Parlapiano.
“I think you will continue to see chefs using the appeal of runny, oozy egg yolk on top of things like loaded fries and appetizers,” he says.
Guillard agrees that eggs translate well to other dayparts, and cites their use in forms such as quiches and omelets.
On-the-Go Breakfast Items
The return to on-the-go eating routines in the wake of the pandemic, especially for breakfast as many consumers have resumed their weekday commutes, has helped drive demand for convenient, grab-and-go breakfast items.
The breakfast and morning snack dayparts have fully recovered from the declines brought on by the pandemic, according to research firm Circana. Morning restaurant visits grew by 10% in 2022, and as of early 2023 were up by 2% versus February 2020, before the start of the pandemic.
“We’re seeing strong customer traffic at breakfast and morning snack, which means consumers are looking for convenience and portable meals and snacks,” says David Portalatin, Circana food industry advisor.
Many breakfast items are ideally suited for the on-the-go trend. Eggo® Grab & Go Liège-Style Waffles, for example, are based on the classic Belgian street food and made to be eaten by hand at any time of day, often as a snack or dessert. More than half of consumers (53%) at eating the Liège-Style Waffles as a snack.
Other ideas for grab-and-go breakfast items include granola bars, pre-packaged baked goods such as muffins, and premade yogurt parfaits or fruit cups. Foodservice operators can work with their supplier partners to source ready-made products such as these that meet the demands of today’s consumers and at the same time help simplify kitchen operations.