CHICAGO — From the time they awake in the morning until 11 a.m., US consumers — ages two and up — consume food and beverages in a variety of eating and drinking occasions, states a new morning meal study titled Morning MealScape 2011 by The NPD Group, a leading market research company. Forty-three percent of these eating and drinking occasions consist of a beverage but no food (e.g. mid-morning coffee), 24 percent a small/mini meal, 21 percent a full/complete meal and 11 percent a snack.

On a typical morning, 38 percent of these consumers limit themselves to one morning eating or drinking occasion; 41 percent indulge in two or more occasions (e.g. early morning small meal and then a late morning beverage). Per person per day, the average number of morning drinking or eating occasions is 1.4. Based on the population, this amounts to an estimated 420 million morning meal occasions per day, or 153 billion occasions per year that include at least one food or beverage.

NPD’s study included 27,179 participants, both adults and children (parents answered on behalf of their children, age 2-5). Participants reported on yesterday’s consumption behavior from the time they got up until 11:00 a.m.

“Understanding the number of eating and drinking occasions and items helps food manufacturers size the morning opportunity,” said Dori Hickey, director, product management at NPD and author of the study. “By developing versatile products and positioning products as both a meal and snack, food companies can meet consumers’ varied morning meal needs and maximize sales volume.”