Incredible Breakfast Trends

ADB: Where’s the Line?

An increasing number of foodservice operators have found ways to extend the hours they serve traditional breakfast foods. Whether it’s the ultimate – all-day breakfast (ADB) – or just a few breakfast-type foods available throughout the day, it’s clear that the warm, comforting foods of the morning meal attract sales well beyond the usual 10 a.m. cutoff.

A few confirming trends, courtesy of Technomic:

  • Egg dishes rose by 14 percent on entree menus across all dayparts in limited-service (LSR) concepts between Q2 2015 and Q2 2016.
  • Menu incidence of egg-topped burgers has risen 30.2 percent since 2013.
  • Egg mentions on specialty pizzas have risen 5 percent since 2015.
  • Mexican-influenced breakfast dishes such as Huevos Rancheros increased by 38 percent across Top 500 operators’ full-service (FSR) menus, Q2 2015 to Q2 2016.

Breakfast items offer more than just comfort. Handheld sandwiches and wraps are portable, nutritious snacks and great tide me over meals. Eggs are extremely flexible, allowing ethnic flavors and sauces like chipotle or sofrito to brighten and intensify an item’s effect. Bruegger’s Bagels’ popular Sriracha Egg Sandwich includes fresh red peppers, but the flavor burst comes from the sriracha while the egg pulls the ingredients all together.

So who’s enjoying ADB’s possibilities? The list just keeps getting longer: McDonald’s, White Castle, Sonic, Starbucks, Einstein Bros., Jack in the Box, Dunkin’ Donuts, Golden Corral, Denny’s, IHOP, Cracker Barrel, Tim Horton’s and Bob Evans, not to mention numerous regional chains and many, many independents.

And there are always more chains taking first steps. At the time of this writing, Charley’s Philly Steaks has added breakfast to selected units of its 500 locations, offering three burritos, all of which feature scrambled eggs, Cheddar, jalapeño-ranch sauce and seasoned potatoes. Little Caesar’s is in-test in 10 locations with three Pizzini breakfast sandwiches between pizza crust-like seasoned bread. Shake Shack has four domestic transportation hub units serving breakfast at NYC’s Grand Central Terminal, Fulton Center and JFK, and Union Station in D.C.

But these are not the only competitors for the ADB dollar. Breakfast heavyweights like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts may spar with other foodservice chains, but there is one arena in which they do not yet play: the grocery freezer case. For the 70 percent of breakfasts still eaten at or taken from home (per The NPD Group), not to mention ADB availability, the retail market is major competition. Marketers, including Nestle, Kellogg, Hillshire, Wal-Mart and El Monterey have lines of breakfast sandwiches, burritos and bowls to rival those on QSR menus.

Well-known brands like Hot Pockets, Eggo, Lean Cuisine, Jimmy Dean and Morningstar Farms microwave into economical and convenient breakfasts. The items are as gentle as Sweet Earth Natural Foods, Get Focused, Functional Breakfast Burrito made with eggs, kale, farro, smoked Gouda, meatless grounds and seasoned with rosemary; and as decadent as the Big Burly Breakfast Sandwich with Bacon, Egg and Cheese on Cinnamon Swirl French Toast. They are as large as the 24 oz. Breakfast Best Western Oven Bake Breakfast Pizza made with Cheddar sauce, mozzarella, eggs, ham, onion and green and red peppers on a rising crust; and as small as the 2.5 oz. El Monterey Egg & Cheese Roll-Ups. There are preservative-, nitrate- and gluten-free, organic, vegetarian, vegan, reduced fat, high protein, grass-fed and whole grain options, to name a few. Serious competition indeed.

One last point: we may hunger for breakfast, but the American habit of consuming our largest meal at dinner calls for heartier protein options in the evening. Consider the Brisket Breakfast at Ria’s Bluebird in Atlanta, using slow-cooked Angus beef, and The Wake-Up Call on C&M Café’s menu in L.A., piled with pastrami. Benedict’s ala Munich at Benedict’s in Crystal Lake, Ill., fills the bill with a grilled bratwurst, and you can’t go wrong with an item like the Reuben Benedict of egg, charred cabbage and plenty of corned beef on a pumpernickel muffin with Thousand Island hollandaise at Haute Dish in Minneapolis.

So, sriracha, charred cabbage, jalapeño-ranch, bratwurst and kale for breakfast? At 3:00 in the afternoon? Why not?


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