Taco Bell banks on breakfast
by Monica Watrous
NEW YORK — Taco Bell is taking a bigger bite out of breakfast.
Eager to capture a share of the runaway day part, the Mexican fast-food chain revealed plans to expand its A.M. offerings during a May 29 presentation at the Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in New York.
“Right now, we have 1 percent mix, if you take it nationally, in breakfast,” said Rick Carucci, president of parent company Yum! Brands, Inc. “McDonald’s is in the 20s. That gives us a long runway to be able to do it.”
Taco Bell currently serves breakfast in about 600 units. The chain debuted its FirstMeal platform in select markets at the beginning of 2012 with such menu items as breakfast burritos and wraps, Cinnabon cinnamon roll bites and Seattle’s Best Coffee drinks.
“We’re going to sort of have a re-launch in those test markets in the summertime with the hope of launching nationally in 2014,” Carucci said.
Recently, the chain has tested more morning meal options, including fruit-topped oatmeal, yogurt parfaits and hot and iced coffee.
But perhaps its most buzz-worthy breakfast experiment has been the Waffle Taco, which features sausage and scrambled eggs in a folded waffle with a syrup packet.
While such innovation lately has benefitted Taco Bell, which has sold 500 million Doritos Locos Tacos since the item first launched in early 2012, the company’s breakfast strategy focuses more on the customer than the menu.
“…if we just convert the Taco Bell user to Taco Bell breakfast, forgetting about other people who eat fast food at other places but just the people who eat fast food at Taco Bell for lunch and dinner, who then go to other places to get breakfast,” Carucci said. “If we just convert our share of those customers, we think we’ll get a successful breakfast business.”