Breakfast is booming. From the explosion of brunch to the proliferation of all-day breakfast menus, this meal has migrated out of its traditional daypart and taking over all industry segments.
Because of this popularity, breakfast can be a powerful sales driver. Yet with this segment’s expansion into so many concepts, competition is stiff.
“Breakfast is hard to do. It used to be done at Denny's and the Village Inn, so people still have it in their heads that it should be cheap and fast,” says Josh Epps, owner of The Jelly Café in Denver. “But now they want it fresh and creative. That is a difficult balancing act, that takes kitchen talent.”
Staying up to date on what is hot in this category is vital to the success of these programs. Here are the top breakfast trends you need to know in 2017.
1. All-Day Breakfast
In 2016, National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Industry Forecast reported that 72 percent of adults want restaurants to serve all-day breakfast. Unlike many great ideas that fizzle out once they become a reality, all-day breakfast has staying power.
The Datassential Keynote on Breakfast reports that 63 percent of all restaurants now serve breakfast, and 31 percent of restaurant operators now menu breakfast items during dinner. As a result, the NRA recommends that if logistically possible, concepts should try to serve all-day breakfast.
By expanding menu offerings with both traditional and innovative breakfast foods, restaurants can capture sales they may not otherwise see.
2. Diet-Friendly Foods
Healthy choices are a major industry trend, and just because breakfast is traditionally associated with indulgent items doesn’t mean that people are willing to give up their diets. The result is growing demand for breakfast items that don’t hurt the waistline.
In a Datassential survey, half the respondents said they were interested in trying healthy or better-for-you breakfast items, and in the MenuTrends Keynote Restaurant Report on Breakfast, 80 percent of consumers said that healthy foods were an important part of breakfast, so restaurants can capitalize by menuing more health-friendly dishes.
In addition, foods that fit into the specific diets consumers follow can drive sales, such as Paleo, and vegan options. Gluten-free foods are also popular, and one that The Jelly Café has embraced.
“In recent years we have tried to make a version of every menu item gluten free,” Epps says. “Gluten free items are tricky and complicated business, and we are constantly tweaking and trying to make the items better. Our goal is to make the Gluten free doughnuts and pancakes as desirable as the traditional items.”
3. Clean-Label Foods
Similar to the healthy food trend, natural foods are on growing in popularity across the industry. The NRA named natural ingredients and minimally processed foods the No. 5 What’s Hot Food Trend for 2016, and that applies to breakfast, too. As consumers look for more foods that contain fewer chemical additives, including artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup, restaurants that focus on serving more clean-label foods can capture a large segment at breakfast.
By serving dishes and condiments that contain no chemical additives, consumers can feel good about what they put in their bodies at breakfast. This can apply to everything from entrees to condiments, like syrups, jams, and jellies.
4. Ethnic Breakfast
The National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot: Top 10 Food Trends for 2017 names ethnic-inspired breakfast items as one of the top trends of the year, with 68 percent of the chefs responding to the survey calling it a hot concept.
Transforming traditional breakfast foods, such as omelets, by including ingredients from other global cuisines can make for appealing new twists that consumers will crave. Spicy creations are especially popular, as the Datassential Keynote on Breakfast notes that chipotle, habanero, poblano, sriracha, and more are notable industry flavors and that influences from Mexican and Asian cuisines are trending.
Another option is to explore the forms from other cuisines and to include breakfast elements. Breakfast burritos, for example, are a popular menu pick that can be adapted to many restaurant concepts.
As many restaurants consider the popularity of breakfast and find new ways to add it to the menu, staying informed on current trends can help ensure breakfast program success. Whether you try these new trends in your restaurants or follow your own passions, more breakfast is a win for restaurants and consumers alike.