Incredible Breakfast Trends

Millennial Evolution

Much has been written about Millennials and much more will be written, as they are destined to become the most influential consumer group in the U.S. Currently accounting for 22 to 24 percent of restaurant spending, Millennials will represent 40 percent of restaurant revenues by 2020.

The attitude of “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work with Millennials. Good operators used to offer good food and that was enough. But Millennials have tossed a wrench into the time-honored works of that tradition, avoiding in significant numbers the segments not fitting their requirements.

Beyond food provenance and farming techniques used, operators must pay attention to the group’s ecological sympathies, technological demands and social agendas. And they must do so while providing fresh and exciting food that is ordered, created and delivered in ways this group finds acceptable.

These torch bearers for locally grown, sustainably raised and non-processed foods are mindful of their own health as well as that of the planet. As America’s most racially diverse generation, they have a penchant for adventurous and ethnically diverse dining, as well as a liberal social bent. They view customizing their food as a need, not a luxury. An operation that understands Millennials is the Third Coast Spice Café in Chesterton, IN. The build-your-own omelets option offers 23 locally-grown/organic meats, veggies and cheeses, and seven chef-made spicy or savory veggie relishes and sauces. Using sustainable and/or biodegradable packing for take-outs, Third Coast embodies all good things to Millennials.

These traits have also led to fast-growing new chains. Blaze Pizza was, quite literally, made for Millennials. Beginning with fresh, made-from-scratch dough, guests can custom design their pizza with any or all of the 37 fresh meats, cheeses, veggies and sauces. After being “fast fire’d” in a stone hearth oven and done in three minutes, pizzas are packaged in recycled or sustainable materials. Personally designed delights of fresh ingredients delivered in recycled packaging: pure millennial heaven.

Add an egg to your burger? Of course! Mix fresh kale into your omelet? Why not! Customization allows vegetarian proteins like eggs to replace meats, spice levels to be personalized and unusual mix-ins to be added. Millennials want what they want, how they want it, when they want it. And with the size of their influence, restaurants are moving toward giving them just that.

Researchers have identified the growth in fresh and less processed foods as proof of Millennials’ effect on the rest of us. In 2014 The NPD Group reported that consumption of fresh foods, defined as fruit, vegetables, fresh meat, poultry, fish and eggs, grew 20 percent between 2003 and 2013. Those foods are expected to grow fastest at breakfast, with a 9 percent increase in morning “fresh food eatings” by 2018.

Research from The Hartman Group quantified the ongoing changes in grocery shopper decision making. The clean label movement spawned increasing numbers of food label readers, and Hartman researchers found that between 2007 and 2013 consumers looking for products containing only ingredients they recognize increased by 53 percent. Those searching for the shortest lists of ingredients rose by 127 percent.

These newer consumer attitudes can be seen in Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts removing dough conditioners and whitener additives, Cheerios eliminating genetically modified ingredients and Panera Bread’s commitment to remove artificial ingredients from its entire menu by the end of 2016.

An increasing number of food bloggers and chefs are devoted to promoting healthy, nutrient-dense foods that are also delicious, cutting down on fat and sugar while creating craveable and exciting food. Mark Erickson, provost at the Culinary Institute of America and a certified master chef, has said, “We’re beginning to get to where Eastern culture has been for thousands of years, which is the idea that food is medicine, and we cannot disassociate our health with what we eat.”

Millennials’ desire for fresh and non-processed foods is driving a sea change in America’s eating habits, well beyond the boundaries of their age group. In the not too distant future, nutrient-dense, higher protein and vitamin-packed foods will be the craveable ones. This is an attitudinal evolution in progress, and evolutions only move forward.


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