CHICAGO — Breakfast foods are comforting for consumers and many, particularly women, would like to have breakfast options throughout the day, according to a new study titled Breakfast Consumer Trend Report by foodservice industry consultant Technomic.

Approximately half of the consumers surveyed (46%) said they would like full-service restaurants to offer breakfast throughout the day. Regarding limited-service restaurants, 32% of consumers would like breakfast offered all day. In both cases, females were significantly more interested in breakfast items for lunch or dinner.

Operators looking to expand breakfast into other dayparts should be mindful of their customer base and develop new offerings accordingly, said Darren Tristano, Technomic executive vice-president. "Understanding the general flavor, ingredient and preparation preferences held by female consumers can help operators and suppliers introduce the most appealing breakfast options beyond morning hours for these guests," he added.

Other findings include:

  • One out of four consumers often treat themselves to a large, traditional breakfast on the weekend;
  • Forty-three percent say they visit their preferred restaurant for weekend breakfasts because the food tastes really good, while weekday breakfast visits are driven by inexpensive offerings (45%) and convenience of location (38%); and
  • More than three in five consumers (63%) say they expect their breakfast purchases at restaurants and convenience stores to remain about the same in the coming year.

Since 2007, consumer interest in breakfast sandwiches has grown. More than three-quarters of today’s consumers (77%) purchase breakfast sandwiches sometimes or often during weekdays, compared to 73%in 2007. Breakfast sandwiches fared even better on weekends, increasing from 61% two years ago to 70% today.

Fast-food restaurants have improved in consumers’ perception of healthy food offerings. Only a third of consumers (35%) say they would like fast-food establishments to offer more healthy options, down from 43% in 2007.

Leading fast-casual restaurant chains are adding new entrées and side items to their breakfast menus faster than any other restaurant sub segment.

Consumer analysis found in the new study is based on recent online surveys with 1,500 U.S. consumers about their consumption behavior, attitudes and preferences for breakfast. The Menu Insights section, derived from Technomic’s proprietary MenuMonitor database and primary and secondary industry data, provides an in-depth look at how leading, emerging and independent restaurant chain operators are menuing breakfast.

Kelly Weikel, senior research analyst for Technomic, told in an e-mail that more than half of the consumers surveyed eat bacon (61%) and sausage (54%) at home for breakfast at least occasionally. "When consumers visit restaurants for breakfast during the week, 63% order bacon and 45% order ham at least on occasion," she added. "Three out of four consumers [74%] also include bacon with breakfasts eaten away from home on the weekend at least occasionally."

Bacon is consumers’ most preferred protein for breakfast sandwiches, with 34% saying they prefer it, she said. "Sausage is the second favorite at 31%," she concluded.