Wake up call

24/07/2012 - 10:14
As more cafés and coffee shops realise the advantages of having a good breakfast offer on their menus, the competition is hotting up. Sheila Eggleston reports

The mantra that everyone shouts is ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and research backs this statement. As analysts such as Mintel estimate that breakfast sales in restaurants increased by 4.1% last year, more operators are looking at this lucrative market and the competition is rising.

For example Greggs the high street baker-cum-coffee shop chain has increased the range of breakfast products it offers and has been heavily promoting meal deals, with sausage and bacon breakfast rolls featuring strongly.

Research shows that 64% of Britons prefer to start the day with bacon, sausage and egg, says Aviko, which bodes well for operators as it presents an opening for add-on sales such as tea, coffee and fruit juice.

Also, with figures from Mintel showing that around 26% of people now choose to have breakfast at their desk, Aviko’s general manager Mohammed Essa says there is a great opportunity with the right products, promotion and price point, to profit from this captive audience.

“More outlets are discovering the benefits that a breakfast service can bring,” says Essa. “If you’re not putting on a morning service, you can bet your nearest rival is.

“There is a balance to be struck however. Breakfast can be profitable but you need to consider the impact it has on an operation. For instance, preparing breakfast should not interfere with preparing a lunch service. Aviko’s breakfast items – including hash browns, sauté potatoes and potato pancakes – are pre-cooked and can be heated and served to order in a matter of minutes.”

How many times have you seen a tempting hot breakfast counter let down by anaemic looking sausages, says Gary Gristwood of Ferndale Foods.

“The solution is using pre-cooked sausages. They are already pre-browned and can be baked from frozen in around 10 to 15 minutes. They don’t split, they don’t stick to baking trays and the product available from us is oven roasted at source rather than fried. They can even be microwaved from frozen.”

This view is echoed by The Big Kitchen, which produces pre-cooked pork sausages and says its gourmet varieties are particularly good for cafés and coffee bars.

“The value of the premium sausage sector reportedly grew by 1.9% in 2010/2011 so cafés serving quality hot food have a huge opportunity to benefit, but only a short window of time in which to operate,” says commercial director Jonathan Ashmore.

“A sausage bap turned around in the time it takes to make a coffee will keep queues moving and profit in the morning rush. Using pre-cooked items makes serving tasty hot food quickly a viable option for many café owners.

“The benefits of pre-cooked sausages are extensive,” says Ashmore. “It can make the operation safer, faster and ensure a great tasting dish is delivered every time. Unlike raw sausages, which can be time consuming to cook, prepared sausages also remove the food safety risk associated with raw meat.”

Tony Davison, commercial manager foodservice at Quorn Foods, says people are increasingly citing time as the main reason for grabbing a bite to go at the start of the day instead of sitting down for breakfast.

“Operators looking to capitalise on this opportunity need to source ingredients that lend themselves to quick cooking. Quorn sausages can be cooked from frozen enabling chefs to prepare breakfast to order, as well as minimising wastage. They’re great for vegetarians and those watching what they eat too.”

Eggs are also a fundamental part of the breakfast menu, whether in a traditional breakfast or as a quick, healthy alternative, and around one-third of all eggs are consumed at breakfast time. The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) says they offer good margins as well as being quick to prepare and serve, while consumers are increasingly recognising the benefits of ‘waking up to eggs’.

“The news that consumers no longer need worry about how many eggs they eat, together with the satiety benefits associated with egg based breakfasts, makes them the obvious choice for operators to include on menus,” says BEIC chief executive Mark Williams.

“Eating a nutritionally balanced breakfast plays an important role to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle,” says Sally Sturley, head of food marketing at Brakes.

“Research shows that cereal is eaten by nine in 10 consumers. With three in five eating cereal on a daily basis, we launched our bulk cereal offering earlier this year to meet demand.

“Porridge is also a great breakfast as it is a source of fibre, low in fat and sodium free. It enjoyed resurgence in popularity during 2010, with the help of three successive cold winters and innovation within the category.”

Lactalis McLelland claims its President butter is also an integral part of the breakfast occasion with its flavour “being able to elevate an ordinary breakfast to an extraordinary meal occasion”.
“The forthcoming Farmhouse Breakfast Week from January 22-28 provides an opportunity to promote breakfast, perhaps with a ‘deskfast’ deal – a special price for a takeaway tea or coffee with toast or a bagel,” says marketing manager Warren Macfarlane. “You could even offer to deliver to local businesses all the components – including President butter portions – in a neat carrier box. For eat-in customers, offer a meal deal that includes a toasted snack with tea or coffee at an entry level price.”
The popularity of spreadable portions over the past few years mirrors the growth in grab and go operations, says Kerry Foodservice marketing manager Anthony Wilkinson.

New to the market for January 2012, he says, are Kerrymaid original mini portions of spreadable butter made using buttermilk, which is spreadable straight from the pack. He adds that its Margetts fruit preserves are a perfect accompaniment. “Combined, they will easily add quality and convenience to even the smallest breakfast offering,” he says.

Delice de France says Allegra Strategies’ latest café report claims that 15% of coffee shop visits are between 6am and 10am, with a high proportion of purchases made by men. To satisfy this demand, it offers hearty savoury options such as cheese and bacon turnovers and all day breakfast muffins.

Also part of its range are ‘wrapped to go’ granola bars, low fat lemon and poppy seed muffins, and blueberry muffins that offer thaw and serve options to drive impulse purchases. Late last year it teamed with the makers of Toblerone to launch the UK’s first branded treat – an all butter pastry combined with the Swiss chocolate product.

“As lifestyles become increasingly more hectic, the demand for tasty, convenient breakfast offerings is booming so it’s important to capitalise on this by having products available to take away or enjoy in with a coffee,” says marketing director Jon Smythe.

With 77 million cups of coffee drunk in the UK every day, according to Nestlé research, each person on average spends nearly £450 a year enjoying the drink out of home. Nearly 71% of people say they buy food with coffee and, as bakery products feature among the top five food items enjoyed with hot drinks, this highlights a way of boosting sales. With the out of home coffee trend expected to continue, Allegra says the coffee shop market is set to grow from the current £5bn industry to £5.9bn by 2013.

Delice’s new campaign, Café Delice, includes support packages to help maximise sales at key times such as the breakfast occasion.

“Consumers are more discerning than they have been in the past and are prepared to pay a premium for products freshly baked and perceived to be authentic,” says Kate Raison, marketing director at Lantmännen Unibake UK. “If they are eating on the go, products that are easy to handle are important and, in a more formal breakfast service, a range to choose from can enhance the menu.

“We are seeing more demand for ‘added value’ products. Premium pastries that have been baked off on the premises give a stamp of quality to menus and enable caterers to charge accordingly.”
Its Bakehouse branded pastries include its bestsellers – all butter croissant, pain chocolat and pain raisin – that come in standard and mini versions. For added value, it also offers artisan style bread to enhance the breakfast offering.

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