Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day and the sector is jam packed full of cereals, mueslis, snack bars and toppings fighting to make it into shoppers’ baskets. In recent years the occasion has seen a surge as we switch things up with breakfast bowls, pancake stacks and toppings galore. Consumers are looking for filling yet tasty and nutritious breakfasts and toppings.

Darryl Burgess, Head of Sales for Weetabix, comments: “Cereal and porridge remain the dominant players at breakfast time, featuring in 59% of all breakfasts – so retailers really need to ensure they are catering for this. We’ve seen increased demand for our products since the lockdown with more people now at home than before. With the share of grocery sales made at convenience stores reaching new highs of 30% over the last few weeks (Nielsen), a full range of breakfast essentials will guarantee continued custom.”

The company says 130 million bowls of Weetabix are personalised by consumers each year, with fruit, nuts, different milks and other ingredients. This is why it brought back the Any-Which-Way-A-Bix campaign earlier this year and it has more marketing and digital plans to come as part of this campaign. Retailers should be aware of the personalisation trend at breakfast and make it easy for shoppers to pick-up complementary products down the breakfast aisle where possible.

Weetabix is still firmly the UK’s number one breakfast cereal brand (Nielsen) and a must stock for retailers, offering a nutritious choice to start the day. Weetabix Original is a low sugar cereal and has all green traffic lights on pack to make it easy for shoppers to make a healthy choice.

Ready brek is now a £10m brand and is the fastest growing product in the cereal category, now to be found in over two million households nationwide (Kantar).

Alpen is the nation’s number one muesli brand, worth over £60m. To ensure Alpen’s health credentials are front of mind, the brand has recently had a pack refresh to highlight important nutritional messaging.

Also in the range are Weetabix Crispy Minis, which have recently been reformulated to reduce sugar, as well as Weetabix Chocolate and Weetos.

Weetabix On The Go can be stocked in the chiller to increase a store’s offering for the on the move meal occasion, as well as ambient for shoppers looking to pick up a product to consume at a future breakfast occasion.

“Now more than ever, we know that consumers are still looking for a convenient and nutritious breakfast to give themselves a head start to take on the day, whatever that looks like,” adds Burgess. Weetabix On The Go was introduced to provide a proper breakfast, bottled, for those who don’t have time to sit down for their Weetabix.

Alpen bars continue to bring a variety of choice to the cereal bars category to give variety to consumers’ snacking options, with a range of flavours running across both the Light and Protein ranges. The Alpen Light range offers consumers a snack and at less than 70 calories offers a healthy snacking option. Placement within both the cereal bar fixtures and healthy living fixtures can help support sales, as well as front of store to help drive impulse purchases.

Bolstering its position as the leading breakfast drink, Weetabix On The Go will return to TV this summer with a new advert as part of a sponsorship of ITV2’s ‘Showtime’ in July and August. The slots provide over 40 hours of live and VOD TV time on the most-watched digital channel for 16-34 year olds, a key demographic for the breakfast drinks sector.

Weetabix On the Go will also partner on social media with Micro Scooters in July and August for a number of scooter giveaways, as the brand reinvests in its digital presence and supports consumers adapting to new on the go behaviours as lockdown eases. Working alongside influencers, the campaign will target Weetabix OTG’s two key demographics: families with busy mornings and young professionals looking for the latest trends.

Charlotte Hunt, Marketing Manager, Weetabix On The Go, said: “Whilst on the go shopping habits have been affected because of the Covid-19 outbreak, we believe there remains a strong growth opportunity for breakfast drinks, with the mega trend for convenience set to continue in the long term. We’re confident that our plans for the year ahead can help to expand this £22m category and support retailers’ on the go offerings.”

Toby Baker, Marketing Director UK, Nestlé Cereals UK, comments: “The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has been a period of significant change for the UK. As the nation adjusts to a ‘new normal’, it has become clear that almost no aspects of daily life remain unchanged. Indeed, with many households continuing to live and work from home, there have been a number of shifts in consumer eating habits and attitudes towards daily meal consumption during the lockdown period. Although to what extent these are temporary or permanent changes remains to be seen.”

Despite the uncertainty, breakfast has remained an important meal of the day and in fact has become increasingly so. Research found that 34 million more breakfasts were eaten in the home every week in April, a total increase of 9% compared to the same period last year (Kantar). Cereal specifically has remained one of the most popular breakfast choices for consumers during lockdown too, with the number of people eating cereal rising by 10% year on year in April (Kantar).

“Another key trend in the breakfast space is changing consumption times,” adds Baker. ”Without the daily commute to the office in recent months, consumers have been starting their morning routine later. New Kantar research shows consumers are 40% less likely to eat breakfast before 8am during lockdown – perhaps getting an extra hour in bed or fitting in a quick exercise routine before starting work. Given the majority of the UK’s workforce is unlikely to return to offices in full capacity for some months, it would be no surprise if later wake-ups and breakfasts are trends which continue for a while yet.”

During April, 83% of all breakfasts were prepped in just under 10 minutes (Kantar). This tells us that despite the absence of a commute for many, consumers are still looking for a quick and convenient breakfast option. This might explain why Nestle’s ready to eat cereals have remained a popular choice at breakfast time.

“Grocery retailers should use such insight to help drive sales and appeal to convenience-driven consumers who are looking for easy, filling options to help fuel the day ahead,” suggests Baker.

Last year Nestle’s research found that more than eight in ten (86%) UK consumers had a limited understanding of whole grain. Over two in five (44%) said a lack of understanding about whole grain’s benefits was holding back consumption – despite the fact that it could benefit over almost a third (29%) who say they don’t eat enough fibre.

“With cereal consumption increasing by 10% year on year, and even more rapidly during lockdown, it’s obvious that retailers can utilise this insight by prioritising stocking cereals as the breakfast option of choice,” Baker adds. “Additionally, given we know that consumers have a repertoire of at least 10 brands each – retailers should be aware that shoppers are looking for variety for themselves and the whole family.”

Quaker Porridge to Go has been hugely successful within the cereals category, with a growth of +74% in 2019 versus 2018 (Nielsen) and to continue the momentum the brand launched a new flavour and multipack format.

New Almond & Honey Quaker Porridge to Go marks the first variant with a nutty inclusion. The launch responds to research that showed 45% of shoppers felt the best way to improve the range was to offer a greater variety of flavours and nut flavours are the most appealing flavour space for consumers.

Quaker Porridge to Go is also expanding into larger multipacks to offer consumers greater value for those who pre-plan their purchases, including larger households and families.

Danielle Mendham, Quaker Brand Manager, comments: ‘’Research has shown that three quarters of Quaker Porridge to Go sales are pre-planned and that shoppers would be encouraged to buy the bars more often in a multipack. So we’re responding with the introduction of two new multipack formats across the current flavours: Golden Syrup and Strawberry, Raspberry & Cranberry.

“The latest additions meet high demand for on-the-go breakfast options, which continue to see double digit growth. The new flavour and multipack format will offer retailers a great sales opportunity.”

The Quaker Porridge to Go bars contain 100% wholegrain oats and provides the same amount as a bowl of Oat So Simple porridge. They offer the perfect breakfast option for those with busy mornings.

Kellogg’s has launched a brand-new All-Bran cereal with prebiotic fibre which aids improved gut health and overall wellbeing.

The new cereal, which comes in two flavours – Original and Almond & Pumpkin Seeds – includes natural prebiotic chicory root fibre and wheat bran fibre, both of which feed good bacteria in the gut, nourishing the gut microbiota.

Catriona Campbell-Voegt, Nutritionist and Kellogg’s Wellbeing Lead in the UK, said: “It’s clear that having a healthy gut can have a massive impact on our overall wellbeing. 70% of our immune cells are found in our gut, and its directly linked with our brain, so how we fuel it is so important. We’re excited to now offer two more delicious cereals which support good gut health to help everyone eat more fibre and feel at their best every day.”

The All-Bran Prebiotic range is part of Kellogg’s commitment to helping families make better choices in the morning and include more fibre in their diet – as nine out of 10 people in the UK don’t get enough fibre and are short of the recommended 30g per day.

This year, Kellogg’s is planning to double their investment in its high fibre brands, and focus on raising awareness and informing the nation on the benefits of high fibre foods and good gut health. The launch of All-Bran Prebiotic Oaty Clusters follows Kellogg’s ‘Happy Guts’ campaign from February 2019, which saw All-Bran, Fruit ’n Fibre and Bran Flakes reposition to help encourage awareness of the importance of a healthy gut.

All-Bran Prebiotic Oaty Clusters is available now from all major supermarkets (RRP £2.99).

Catherine Lloyd, Marketing Director Upfield, UK & Ireland, comments: “There has been increased demand across our entire portfolio, and we have experienced strong growth in sales. This can partly be attributed to shifts in consumer behaviour following the Coronavirus outbreak, as shoppers look for trusted brands that deliver on taste, health credentials and performance whilst spending more time cooking at home.”

The trend for plant-based foods remains at an all-time high and this trend remains prevalent in the current climate, with recent research from FLORA finding that 12% of consumers switched to plant-based alternatives when the UK went into lockdown, opting for plant-based margarines like FLORA over butter. Available in four variants (FLORA Original, FLORA Light, FLORA Buttery and FLORA Dairy Free) FLORA is a perfectly versatile ingredient to meet the cooking needs of our consumers at home and is ideal for spreading too. In addition, it is nutritious for the whole family, as it is naturally rich in Omega 3 and 6.

“We believe the breakfast occasion has played a role in this sales increase,” says Lloyd. “Many consumers are now eating all three meals at home, and since sales of bread have risen, shoppers are eating more spreads such as FLORA.”

Upfield’s research also revealed that when it came to eating out, 29% of consumers had said they missed going out for brunch the most and have therefore been baking more bread (26%) and pastries (19%) than before the lockdown began; utilising FLORA as either an ingredient or for spreading on freshly baked bread. One of the brand’s most popular recipes is its FLORA vegan pancakes which make an ideal mid-morning treat accompanied with lots of fresh fruit and various toppings.

“A healthy, nutritious start to the day is important for all-round health and that’s why FLORA with 100% natural ingredients, no preservatives, artificial colours or flavours is a perfect addition to the breakfast table,” adds Lloyd. “We are seeing a trend for consumers returning to trusted household brands – particularly with the increase in baking and cooking at home in the current climate. Existing bakers are now baking more often, and there are many new bakers cooking at home for the first time.”

Upfield’s portfolio of products is designed to meet the differing needs of consumers and to help them make changes which support the planet and support a healthy balanced diet.

As more people look for healthier options, there is a growing appetite for spread alternatives, such as FLORA, and the long-term health benefits that they can offer. Plant-based eating is a major consumer trend and one Upfield believes is here to stay. The company’s research revealed that in lockdown, 35% of consumers had switched to margarine instead of butter, with half stating they had switched to plant-based items in order to be healthier, 37% to be more sustainable and 34% so they could try out new recipes.

“We also expect value and health to become more critical in the purchasing decision of our consumers as society continues to shift to plant-based diets,” comments Lloyd. “Products that offer nutritional benefits for example (omega 3 and 6) will perform strongly as consumers take necessary steps to look after their health.”

There is great demand for sustainable diets – research in the 2018 Journal of Life Cycle Assessment shows that on average Upfield plant-based margarines and spreads have a 70% lower climate impact, occupy two thirds less land and use less than half the water than the same amount of dairy butter.

“Since lockdown was announced, purchasing habits have changed,” adds Lloyd. “Gone are the days of the top-up shop, as consumers have started shopping for bigger baskets less frequently in line with government advice.”

Upfield’s research has shown that since the nation went into lockdown, consumers are not only baking more frequently but they are cooking more in general and making healthier choices.

The company believes that the resurgence for at-home cooking is a trend that is here to stay – 15% of those surveyed said that they were planning to keep up their new eating habits beyond lockdown. Consumers will continue to look for more trusted and versatile products that can be used across a variety of cooking occasions, which are not only good for them, but also the environment.

Upfield’s research has shown that 43% of consumers have been cooking from scratch more during these times. A spread like FLORA lends itself to these changes in consumer behaviour, being plant-based and both vegetarian friendly and gluten-free – it can be used in multiple ways; from baking cakes and midweek family meals, to pancakes and pastries, or just spread on morning toast.

“First and foremost, customer and staff health and safety during these times should be retailers’ number one priority,” says Lloyd. “Retailers can look to capitalise on key consumer trends in order to maximise sales.”

These include the rise of at-home cooking and baking, as well as the increased demand for plant-based products. Of those surveyed, 15% of consumers said that they were planning to keep up their new eating habits beyond lockdown, so shopkeepers should bear these shifts in mind when re-stocking within the spreads category.

Jeremy Gilboy, Founder, St Pierre Groupe, comments: “Bakery alternatives are also performing extremely well during this time. As people can’t go out for breakfast or brunch, they are finding new ways to help make their home cooking more interesting by introducing quality ingredients, such as brioche.”

As the UK’s number one brioche burger bun brand (Nielsen), St Pierre offers a range of brioche that has a rich, buttery taste, yet is light in texture with a subtle sweetness. St Pierre is growing rapidly, up 34% year on year, and provides a premium offering of authentic bakery goods.

“In addition to bakery alternatives like brioche, part-baked bread is also increasing in popularity as consumers look for both quality and convenience in their bakery products,” adds Gilboy.

Paul Hollywood’s Ready to Bake rolls are an alternative for consumers who are looking for the aroma and taste of freshly baked bread in their homes but don’t necessarily have the time, ingredients or desire to make it from scratch. While still warm from the oven, the Ready to Bake rolls can be used for a bacon bap, or simply with butter or jam. Paul Hollywood is the biggest brand in the part baked category in the UK, showing 35% value growth year on year against total market growth of 5% (Nielsen).

Breakfasts on-the-go grew by 9.5% in 2018 to over 263 million occasions; a trend that is particularly marked among the 16-34 age group who account for 40% of take-out breakfasts (Kantar). This age group’s takeaway breakfast consumption grew by 35% over the past year (Kantar). St Pierre’s ‘On-the-Go’ range, which enjoyed sales growth of 141% year on year, is ideal for this breakfast demographic as it offers a range of individually wrapped bakery products, such as Vanilla Brioche Swirls, Croissants and Pains au Chocolat, Chocolate Chip Brioche Rolls, Belgian Waffles and Caramel Waffles, which can easily be eaten on the move. New product development across portable and convenient formats is helping to drive this breakfast trend.

Monisha Singh, Shopper Marketing Manager at Kepak Consumer Foods, comments: “Compared to habitual breakfasts, a hot breakfast is deemed a treat to be enjoyed, which can offer a break from the normal breakfast routine. Weekday hot breakfasts are convenience led and usually eaten alone as part of a busy morning routine.”

Kepak recently unveiled a radical new look for its £102m Rustlers brand (Nielsen), boosting the quality and provenance credentials of the product range. The new look is an integral part of a wider strategy to broaden the appeal of the UK’s No.1 micro-snack (Nielsen).

The new packs feature ‘flame grilled’ and ‘100% British and Irish beef’ messaging to highlight the quality, provenance and genuine flame-grilling process of Rustlers products.

“Clear tiering of the range, a new design and protein led colour coding, will make the category easier and quicker to shop for today’s time pressed consumers, while offering obvious trade up options,” adds Singh.

“We are living in the age of convenience with more focus than ever before on the speed and ease of preparation, underpinned by a growing focus on the quality of the food we eat. Convenience can no longer afford to come with compromise. Whilst Rustlers is synonymous with convenience and speed, it also has fantastic quality credentials, which will be strongly dialled up as part of this relaunch.”

Paulina Gorska, Marketing Manager, Lantmännen Unibake UK, comments: “Brunch continues to bring big opportunities to the retail sector, its versatility in terms of both type of dish and consumption hours means that it appeals to younger consumers. These consumers are seeking ever more variety and quality in their food and are increasingly moving away from the traditional three meals a day.”

Brunch is now much more than a meal consumed between or instead of breakfast and lunch, with part of its appeal being that it offers an “any meal, any time of day” approach.

“Retailers can look to maximise the opportunity by offering a range of ready to serve sweet and savoury products such as viennoiserie, Danish pastries and savoury pastries throughout the day,” adds Gorska. “Retailers should look to bake little and often to retain quality and freshness, helping to ensure their store is the store of choice for the brunch occasion.”

An increasingly popular social occasion, the bottomless brunch can help retailers cash in on the brunch opportunity too. With 84% of all sweet bakery occasions featuring a drink, it’s not unusual for retailers to cross promote hot drinks with breakfast items during the week.

“Consider switching this up at the weekend to showcase the brunch offering by creating a brunch meal deal,” suggests Gorska. “Look to pair popular brunch items such as Danish Pastries with premium coffees, fruit juices or, for an added level of indulgence, a bottle of Prosecco alongside the fruit juice for consumers to create a Buck’s Fizz, and enjoy a bottomless brunch at home with friends.”

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