The business of breakfast and brunch

Some of Flour Pot Bakery's (Brighton) breakfast offers
05/10/2018 - 06:00
It wasn’t long ago that breakfast involved a bowl of cereal or butter-smothered toast whilst running out of the door, one that caterers would struggle to dip into the market of.

Five years later, and breakfast and brunch have become the social events of the day, an £11.6bn market in which the foodservice industry can tap into and take the most of.

A recent Délifrance report, ‘Beyond Breakfast and Brunch’ discovered that 36.6% of people eat breakfast out of the home at least once a week, 48% citing convenience as a reason.

Grab and Go

“There’s been a clear shift away from conventional work and family routines and the traditional nine-to-five,” says Bee Farrell, a culinary anthropologist. “All the while people are placing more value than ever on their free time and being hyper-aware of how it’s spent. Breakfast out of the home, especially grab and go, shows people are making the most of their time spent on the commute, or time sitting at their desk.”

Time has become a precious commodity, and “preparing food takes time from something else we’d like to be doing,” explains Farrell.

The report revealed that 18-24 year-olds are the biggest convenience seekers, as well as the most price sensitive, however 24-35 year-olds are the most likely to breakfast out of the home multiple times of the week.

Otopia at the Boxpark in Croydon said: “opening our grab and go site right next to Croydon station was a no-brainer. We wanted to capture the commuter trade and customers in the many local offices nearby, offering an easily accessible option for those getting breakfast en route.

“We see a pretty consistent high footfall throughout the day but a key spike for us is definitely in the morning around rush hour.”

Dine in

However, it is not just the grab-and-go market that has boomed in recent years with 40% saying that breakfast is now a social occasion.

“Breakfast is now firmly on the map as a social occasion. You only have to look at Instagram, which has 77million posts tagged with breakfast and 20.5million tagged with brunch, to get a feel for how social it really is and that its an occasion to be seen at,” Farrell explained.  

When considering grab-and-go, 18-24 year olds are the most price sensitive, however when dining in they are the biggest dine-in breakfast spenders, £8.74 as the average but 24% are willing to spend as much as £11.20.

The report also found that when considering breakfast 22% went for health, but 23% indulgence and it is thought that seasonal changes could contribute to the slight difference for example, with new year’s resolutions, January could lead to a more health-inclined breakfast while Christmas time, or end-of-week treats could inspire a consumer to indulge.

“As a society we are more health conscious than ever,” says Farrell. “But ‘good behaviour’ with eating and exercise often leaves people feeling like they deserve a treat. On the flip side, those less interested in leading a healthy lifestyle often use indulgent foo as easy gratification. It just goes to show that there’s always going to be a place or more indulgent options, no matter who your customers are.”


Food trends come and go; however 24% of respondents admitted that menu variety is the biggest influence when choosing a venue, with Mexican and Nordic twists often the biggest pull.

“Now brunch is a well established trend, we’re seeing operators having to compete more to stand out,” says Stéphanie Brillouet, Northern Europe and North America marketing director at Délifrance. 

Five years ago, to find vegan products, you would have to find a specialised shop, however with it now firmly in the mainstream 15% have deemed it essential for a ‘good’ menu, followed by gluten-free options (11%) and only beaten by coffee, which 41% said was essential on a menu.

The Set in Brighton said: “Our menu is based on classics with a twist in both taste and presentation. While our breakfast menu gets a lot of love across the board, if I had to pick our stand out dishes, it would be our avocado on toast, ham hock hash browns and sweet pancakes. These are the customer favourites.”


Perhaps spurred on by the rise of social media, setting has become one of the most important factors when customers decide where to eat.

“In a time where social media drives self-expression and where a meal is as much an experience as something to eat, setting is everything. The choice of venue and aesthetic is a way people represent themselves, and this includes vegan and the lesser established flexitarian label that people will seek out.”

The idea that if it wasn’t posted on Instagram did it even happen is strife with 18-24 year-olds, which is where interest in atmosphere and setting peaks, steadily decreasing with age.

Good service came out on top at (42%) for considerations when choosing a restaurant, followed by restaurant concept and lighting at 29% and 24% respectively, with design finishing off at 21%.

Businesses can capitalise on the use of social media, the more they are tagged in a post, the more promotion a place can get, driving customers through the doors and encouraging others to snap a picture themselves.

It certainly cannot be denied that breakfast and brunch are here to stay, and the market for it is expected to grow even more in the next five years. By tapping into the market, foodservice operators in places such as workplaces are in a prime position to take advantage of the latest trends and become a leader in the market. 

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