Turkey Bacon: Key to Winning the Breakfast Wars?

by SugarCreek
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America's love affair with bacon has turned to an alternative protein — turkey.

While Americans still love their bacon – chowing down about 18 lbs. of it every year – consumers are showing more interest in the nutritional impact of their food purchases. Healthier alternatives to traditional breakfast foods, like turkey bacon, are rising in popularity. Now, even health-conscious grocery shoppers can have their bacon and eat it, too. Healthier and gourmet breakfast options have been steadily gaining ground over the last decade, and brands that offer upscale updates on traditional flavors can build market share by capitalizing on consumer demand for healthier twists on their traditional favorites.

Turkey: It’s Not Just for Thanksgiving Dinner

Turkey bacon and turkey breakfast sausage are two of the most popular items in both the foodservice and retail segments. From pre-cooked sausages to maple-flavored patties there are more varieties than ever. “One of the exciting things that is happening is that not only are new product lines being introduced, but you’re seeing the evolution of some existing product lines,” said Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation.

While per capita domestic consumption of turkey has remained relatively steady over the last few years, the share of the consumer dollars going to turkey products has increased. According to Brandenberger, this trend is a direct reflection of food manufacturers “developing turkey cuts and product lines that consumers are getting excited about” and grocery shoppers who are “willing to pay a little more” for these cuts.

Turkey as a healthy breakfast alternative remains a hot trend, especially as breakfast continues to be the food industry’s fastest growing segment. Mintel, a marketing intelligence agency, expects the market to grow by more than $10 billion in the next five years, fueled in part by a push towards healthier breakfast options like turkey bacon and turkey sausage.

Breakfast Food Trends for 2016: Quick and Easy Meets Healthy

Convenience may be king, but nutrition matters, too. That’s why turkey bacon may very well be key to winning the breakfast wars. The food product unites these two popular trends into a single convenient, easy-to-eat and nutritious power meal. Mornings are an especially hectic time for the average American consumer, so everything in a breakfast meal needs to be quick, easy and portable. Grocery shoppers also aren’t afraid to experiment with next textures and flavors. They’re giving the cold shoulder to long-time breakfast staples like sugary cereals and opting instead for healthier, on-the-go options like turkey bacon breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos.

“Convenient, single-serve packs that you can grab, throw in a bag and open easily [are popular],” said Ricardo Rodriguez, marketing manager for confectionery and bakery at Ingredion, Westchester, Ill. “Consumers are more knowledgeable than ever and are taking the time to read what ingredients are used [in products] and what functional benefits they're getting.”

Today’s savvy grocery shoppers are demanding more products with familiar, functional ingredients like protein, fiber, whole grains and real fruit. Food manufacturers are answering. General Mills is one of the latest food processors to announce the removal of artificial ingredients, colors and flavors from its food, aiming to rid artificial ingredients from at least 75 percent of the company’s breakfast cereals by January 2016. As consumers continue to demand healthy, on-the-go breakfast options, food manufacturers must respond, or be pushed out by competitors who are more willing to cater to shoppers’ taste, texture and health food demands.

And that brings us back to turkey bacon. Despite a definite trend towards healthier eating, America’s love affair with bacon shows no signs of slowing down—just taking another form. Turkey bacon is healthier, fits easily in an on-the-go-breakfast sandwich and satisfies consumers’ cravings for bacon. That’s a win-win-win.

This article was contributed by SugarCreek and first appeared on SugarCreek.com.

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