Elongating the trading day and focusing on increasing the spend across all day parts will be paramount to caterers’ survival as they reopen their doors, whether that is from a dine-in or purely takeaway and delivered operation.

The popularity of delivered takeaway in particular is skewed towards the evening as consumers associate this spend with an evening or weekend treat occasion.

Understanding the shifts in consumer behaviours and their key concerns are essential to encourage visits back into the out-of-home market over the summer and beyond. During lockdown we saw an increase in working from home and home-cooking, both behaviours which are set to stay and therefore will impact the way the foodservice market needs to operate for the long-term.

Before the pandemic, breakfast and brunch were the fastest growing day-parts, so what can we expect from the ‘new normal’ and how can you adapt your offering to suit the evolving customer demands?

New beginnings

At the beginning of the year it was estimated that almost three-quarters (73.4%) of consumers were expected to change their eating habits to something more healthy.

“After weeks of lockdown, days of box sets and snacking indulgence, it’s highly likely that consumers will be watching their waistlines even more, whilst caterers will be conscious to drive sales and maximise profits to recover the lost revenue,” advises Daniel Duprat, foodservice manager at Bennett Opie. “It’s vitally important that caterers not only include nourishing and wholesome options within their overall offer but they also encourage consumers to return to the enjoyment of the eating out occasion whilst protecting their margins.”

During lockdown, many people moved to home-baking and scratch-cooking so caterers need to offer something new and innovative that embraces different tastes and cultures that cannot be replicated at home.

“Offering a new-style breakfast dish like brick bread would offer something different,” continues Daniel. “Importantly, the dish starts with a relatively low cost base allowing for greater opportunity to use indulgent and interesting toppings. Incorporating the likes of Opies’ fruity compotes with natural yogurt or, perhaps, goats’ cheese with slithers of stem ginger and drizzled with ginger syrup would definitely provide a luxurious and interesting brunch menu offer.”

Favourite breakfasts when
eating out (pre-Covid-19):

• Full English 42% 

• Bacon butty 8% 

• Eggs benedict 4.5% 

• Pain au chocolat 4.5% 

• Scrambled eggs and salmon 4%

From providing click-and-collect family breakfast meal packs to utilising innovative packaging solutions, how can you adapt your offer to suit the increased demand for food-to-go and takeaway offers?

80% of consumers would be happy to visit restaurants again, if there were added
on-site precautions .

That is compared with 77% being happy to visit cafes and coffee shops, 71% to pubs and fast food stores and 68%
to bars.

The statistics from CGA’s latest BrandTrack survey also revealed the top ten list of measures consumers would like to see to ease nervousness.

64% tables/seats to be moved further apart

60% free hand sanitiser available

56% enhanced cleaning protocols in place

55% social distancing measures implemented, such as queuing protocols

44% ability to pay by contactless

44% enhanced food safety and hygiene procedures implemented

42% venue to open at limited capacity

34% outside areas to use, such as beer gardens and terraces

33% toilet facilities to be improved

30% staff wearing personal protective equipment

Flour power

Before lockdown, toasted muffins were the number one savoury bakery choice.

Jane Olney, commercial director, Kara, says: “They were used simply as a carrier for bacon, egg or sausages but worked equally well with smashed avocado, ham or smoked salmon.

“When we start to live in our ‘new normal’ life, toasted muffins will be an invaluable option for caterers and likely to remain a top-choice at breakfast. They are robust, tasty and soft, therefore a perfect choice for takeaway and delivery, which is only set to grow further in popularity and demand.”

Fruited teacakes, which are traditionally more popular with the older demographic have also seen a resurgence in popularity and are a particularly good choice for the care sector. As well as having broad appeal, they are soft and easy to eat, so provide a tasty alternative to traditional mainstream breakfast items like toast.

Take it away

With 45% of out-of-home breakfast occasions taken to-go last year (MCA) and social distancing measures expected to be in place for some time, takeaway breakfast options remain an important offering.

Gordon Lauder, MD of Central Foods, says: “Bakery products are perfect for the growing demand that’s been seen especially in the delivery sector, drive-through options and work-related food-to-go purchases.

“We’ve taken a close look at demand for our breakfast and brunch products and discovered that muffins and pancakes are proving very popular with our foodservice customers, which obviously means they are going down very well with consumers.”

Scandi style

While the appetite for out-of-home and grab-and-go breakfast and brunch options continue to be big, now may be a good time to turn to Scandinavia for some inspiration when it comes to breakfast menus, suggests Jenny Jeppsson, concept Manager at Swedish flatbread company Polarbröd.

“No longer just a morning option, breakfast and brunch-style meals are being served throughout the day – something that’s known as brunchification,” she says.

“Swedish breads are becoming more popular and well known in the UK now. Breakfast or brunch wraps, sandwiches and rolls using Scandi thinbreads and flatbreads would be a great way to introduce something new and different to a breakfast or brunch menu.

“Rolls, sandwiches and wraps can be filled or topped with egg, bacon, cheese or salad for a tasty and easy-to-prepare-and-serve breakfast or brunch item.

“Open sandwiches topped with egg, smoked salmon or cheese are popular Swedish breakfast choices.”

Flippin’ fabulous

American pancakes also saw a 10% increase in sales last year, and demand for vegan American pancakes shot up by 76% in 2019 over 2018.

Gordon Lauder, of Central Foods, says: “Some 10% of consumers say that pancakes
are their top hot breakfast choice, so it’s no wonder that we’ve seen such a high demand
for our pancakes, both vegan friendly and regular options.

“Try topping American pancakes with fruit, blueberries, honey and yogurt, scrambled eggs and salmon, bacon and maple syrup or some other nutritious additions.”

thefoodpeople have highlighted ‘pancake cereal’ as a lockdown micro trend. Essentially, it’s lots of tiny pancakes in a bowl topped with syrup and fruit and even milk or milkshake with sprinkles on top. The “panflakes” trend follows on from the wider trend of pancake innovations and novelty cereals.

Cereal filler

Cereals account for 55% of breakfast occasions and plays an important role in getting the nation off to a good nutritional start.

Mikey Billingham, business manager – out of home, Cereal Partners Worldwide, states: “It’s widely recommended your morning meal should provide around 20% of your daily energy. It should also contribute significantly to your daily nutrient intake, including carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre. And children need to get up to a quarter of their daily calcium from their breakfast too. So breakfast has a pretty big job to do!”

With obesity a serious global issue, sugar has been singled out as a key culprit, forcing consumers to re-think their eating habits.

Mikolaj Kaczorowski, innovation analyst at Mintel, advises: “There is an ongoing consumer demand for sugar reduction in breakfast cereals, with over three quarters of UK cereal eaters/buyers saying they would like to see the sugar content reduced in their favourite breakfast cereal.

“Greater format variety – including pots, cereal and milk duos, overnight oats, squares and ‘snackable’ minis – and category blurring efforts, such as smoothie bowls, drinkable oats, popcorn muesli or chocolate-covered treats, have opened up new growth areas for cereals.”

Good hydration

Regular hot beverage consumption is much more than just a hydration strategy in care homes – it plays a key role in total wellbeing.

Hot beverages provide feelings of comfort, as well as offer a great opportunity for residents
to socialise.

“Why not create your very own coffee shop corner, complete with easy to make speciality style blends, as a great way to encourage residents to meet up and share stories with each other at their care home café?” suggests Martyn Bell, category marketing manager – convenience coffee, Jacobs Douwe Egberts. “Making a clearly purposed area for social and activity meet-ups, with an easy-to-use range of enticing and delicious coffee drinks, residents are welcomed to discover more choice of indulgent, popular flavours than they would enjoy from a high street café.”

Kenco has introduced its popular Latte and Cappuccino Instant Specialities in 750g tins to help keep hot beverage offerings exciting, but accessible.

Go Global

International travel and holidays may still be off the agenda, but global food trends will still continue to influence breakfast and brunch menus.

Pre Covid-19, breakfast was undergoing a cultural transformation with influences from Mexico, Indian, Korea and the Middle East bursting onto menus. Similarly, all-day breakfasts and bottomless brunches were enjoying huge popularity.

Kim Hartley, business development chef, Mission Foods, manufacturer of the world’s number one tortilla, says: “Rather than have a menu with what are seen as traditional breakfast fare, there needs to be something that will make customers stop and think. In short, you need to stand out from the crowd.

“Why not add a spicy chorizo sausage wrap for those on the go? Aside from wraps, Mission also offers pittas, which can elevate a breakfast dish, such as topping them with Welsh Rarebit and fried eggs.”

Jane Olney, commerical director, Kara, adds: “Taking influences from international cuisines will bring new life into the important day-part; whether it’s breakfast burgers, burritos or even tempeh filled tortillas as a vegan alternative.

With cost pressures likely, operators would benefit from investing in cost-effective ingredients like ambient or frozen options. Choosing a frozen bakery option, for example, provides caterers with absolute convenience and helps to avoid unnecessary waste.”

Operators have adapted their offering to allow consumers to order and collect ‘Bottomless Brunch’ boxes of pre-pared brunch dishes alongside premixed cocktails to allow customers to recreate the same experience at home.

Comfort food
“Classic pastries seem to be the watchword when it comes to the bakery selections on offer during the COVID-19 crisis. The Swedish bun is all over takeaway menus, partly because they are robust and survive the rigours of transportation, but also because they are delicious.”
– thefoodpeople’s Menuwatching report May 2020