Pillsbury shares latest research about consumer breakfast habits during the pandemic and what this may mean for spring and summer menus.
MINNEAPOLIS (March 16, 2021)—Consumers are eating more breakfast foods than normal during the COVID-19 pandemic and not just in the morning hours, according to a recent nationwide online survey conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by General Mills Foodservice. Nearly a quarter of Americans report eating more breakfast foods during the COVID-19 pandemic than they normally would (24 percent) with items such as eggs (72 percent), cereal and pancakes (both 51 percent) and bakery items such as donuts (36 percent), cinnamon rolls (34 percent) and muffins (33 percent) among the top favorite breakfast items. Further, nearly four in five Americans (79 percent) have eaten breakfast foods outside of the traditional breakfast meal in the past year.
General Mills Foodservice together with Pillsbury, its premier baking brand for foodservice professionals, breaks down the results of the recent poll and shares tips for foodservice operations to appeal to consumers’ changing eating habits while showcasing breakfast as a profit driver across dayparts. The nationwide poll surveyed more than 2,000 adults ages 18 and over to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their eating habits—both at home and when dining outside of the home.
“The recent poll shows that people are eating more breakfast foods during the pandemic and enjoying them for lunch, dinner and even dessert,” said Mark Harmon, who analyzes consumer insights for General Mills Foodservice. “We also learned that consumers are eager to return to restaurants to enjoy their favorite breakfast and brunch foods, signaling that breakfast could be all the buzz on spring and summer menus.”
Results from the poll show that consumers who are eating more breakfast foods during the pandemic over the past year are doing so because they feel they have more freedom in what and when they eat, since they have more time in their schedule (52 percent), they’ve been craving their favorite breakfast foods (37 percent), they want to eat something fun that brings them joy (33 percent) or breakfast favorites remind them of childhood (24 percent).
Other findings include:
- Consumers have a deep affection for breakfast, with three in five Americans (62 percent) saying breakfast is their favorite meal of the day and over half (56 percent) saying they love breakfast food more now than they did a year ago.
- Over three-quarters of survey respondents (79 percent) have eaten breakfast foods for meals other than breakfast in the past year with more than half (59 percent) saying they have eaten breakfast foods for dinner, 49 percent have enjoyed breakfast foods for lunch and 20 percent have eaten breakfast items for dessert.
- Three-quarters of Americans (75 percent) look forward to eating breakfast/brunch at their favorite restaurant once the pandemic is over with more than a third (36 percent) saying they would like to be able to purchase breakfast/brunch meal kits (e.g., biscuits and gravy, pancakes) or ''take and bake'' breakfast items (e.g., cinnamon rolls, muffins) to cook and bake at home from their favorite restaurant.
- More than half (66 percent) said they love creative twists on breakfast menu items.
“Consumers’ love of breakfast is strong, giving chefs and foodservice operations the chance to reimagine breakfast,” said Harmon, who adds breakfast often has an impulsive nature that restaurants can appeal to with new and different menu items. “For instance, consumers may not have breakfast for dinner in their regular rotation of eating, but they may be tempted to splurge on it for a memorable experience.”
Tips to Boost Breakfast Business:
- Serve breakfast all-day with a special menu of morning favorites or a signature breakfast item-of-the-day.
- Celebrate “Brinner” with a limited-time offer or buy-one-get-one-free breakfast menu.
- Get creative with fun menu items that feature a breakfast flair (a grilled cheese doughnut, savory doughnuts or pancakes, waffles as a sandwich carrier).
- “Plus up” traditional breakfast foods and give them a new twist (biscuit avocado toast, smoky mac & cheese waffles, cinnamon roll waffles or Fiesta French toast).
- Introduce a menu of “bresserts” or dessert items made from traditional breakfast items (cinnamon roll cobbler, strawberry scone shortcake, cereal-flavored ice cream waffles sandwiches, birthday cake pancakes).
- Offer tempting “take and bake” options for breakfast foods (a tray of cinnamon rolls or muffins, a breakfast casserole to-go or baked French toast).
- Bundle breakfast foods together for a family brunch meal kit (biscuits and gravy, pancakes with sausage or bacon and fresh fruit, breakfast sandwiches and yogurt parfaits).
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of General Mills Foodservice from Feb. 11-16, 2021 among 2,038 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact General Mills Foodservice.
Pillsbury offers an extensive line of baking mixes and ready-to-bake items to help foodservice operations maximize their back-of-house labor and turn out high-quality, scratch-like baked goods with ease. Last year, the brand rolled out an online community called Pillsbury Professional (www.PillsburyProfessional.com) to assist foodservice professionals with challenges around baking. The website offers them the opportunity to interact with their peers and baking experts, ask questions about baking and empowers them with recipe inspiration, how-to videos, baking trend analysis and more.
About General Mills Convenience & Foodservice
The General Mills Convenience & Foodservice division serves the convenience, foodservice and bakery industries by providing quality products from time-trusted brands along with culinary, nutrition education and marketing resources to help operators succeed. Its distinguished brand portfolio includes Big G Cereals, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Gold Medal, Pillsbury, Chex Mix, Bugles, Gardetto’s and Annie’s. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, the division had fiscal 2019 net sales of $1.97 billion. For more information, please visit www.generalmillscf.com.
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CONTACT: Sarah Peterson
General Mills Convenience & Foodservice