A perfect day starts with a perfect breakfast. And the artfully curated breakfast aisle of a convenience store can be the perfect sauce to transform it into a community’s ultimate one-stop solution.
Convenience is still highly valued, with easy and quick to prepare breakfasts remaining the most sought-after qualities. Health, heightened by the pandemic, now takes center stage in consumers’ minds, sculpting a shift towards healthier breakfast habits.
The pandemic and hybrid working gave many consumers more time in the morning during periods of lockdowns and work-at-home orders. This created opportunities for ‘slow’ breakfast items, and the popularity of cooked breakfasts increased
The Mordor Intelligence report shows that Brits now prefer a more nutritious and quick breakfast due to global awareness. The UK proudly maintains its status as the largest breakfast food market in Europe, with an escalating demand for fruits during the morning ritual. Delifrance reports a staggering 98 percent of UK consumers partake in breakfast, with 22 percent acknowledging an uptick in breakfast frequency.
Mintel’s store report highlights cereals and toast as the darlings of home breakfasts, with yogurts and breakfast biscuits witnessing a surge, given the widespread adoption of daily at-home breakfasts. Simultaneously, the on-the-go breakfast food market is making a comeback, poised to propel growth in breakfast biscuits and cereal/snack bars.
The enduring shift to more hybrid working, however, underlines the need for retailers to understand the customer habit to cater to the demands of those eating breakfast at home and on the go.
Cereals and staples
According to Statista, nearly 14 million Brits eat breakfast cereal once or more times a day.
A multitude of cereal brands are consumed by millions of British consumers each year. Among a sea of products, ‘Weetabix Original’ leads the British ranking for the most frequently selected brand with 8.5 million consumers. Other leading names are Kellogg’s, Oat-so-Simple, Crunchy Nut, Special K, Cookie Crisp, Coco Pops, Corn Flakes, and others.
As UK consumers have become more time-poor, the scope for quick or easy-to-prepare products has grown. PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats offering was the first to succeed, which includes a range of microwaveable porridge sachets and Cuppa Porridge.
Sam Maguire, Head of Marketing at Rude Health, declares that post Covid-19 lockdown, cereals are back in growth.
“Cereals are a fantastic breakfast option as they address key features consumers are looking for – taste, convenience and health. Whilst working from home is a factor in supporting the overall category, people still want something that is quick and easy to prepare and enjoy.
Rude Health’s cereals address all these elements – they are made only with ‘kitchen cupboard’ ingredients sourced from where they grow best, and they’re created to be both delicious but also nutritionally balanced.
This commitment to taste and nutrition has seen continued growth for Rude Health’s portfolio of granolas, mueslis, porridges, puffs and flakes. Being present across multiple sub-categories in cereals means the Rude Health brand is the perfect breakfast solution.
Not only this, but Rude Health also has a range of plant-based milks which are the perfect accompaniment to its cereals range – they are all organic and work well with cereals, porridges, smoothies as well as tea and coffee, Maguire tells Asian Trader.
“Within cereals, we are seeing a bifurcation of the market in terms of price point – with growth coming from the premium end the budget end. Mid-priced cereals are being squeezed as people either want to trade down to make cost savings or they are willing to trade up for options that deliver a premium offering,” says Maguire.
A recent addition to Rude Heath range further taps into these trends. Priced RRP £3.00 for at 375g, Apple & Cinnamon Bircher Muesli is ready in only a few seconds thus negating the need to soak the oats overnight, making them the ultimate convenient breakfast option.
The launch will be supported by a yearlong advertising campaign starting. The campaign will appear on billboards across London and the Southeast at intervals throughout 2024, delivering 500 million impressions across the year so make sure your store also has it.
Unlike other meals, breakfast is more about starting the day purposefully energised. Whilst healthy, clean, and nutritious rank highly, about 79 per cent of adults cite ‘enjoyment’ as a key driver for their food and drink purchases, so products that balance the two are in high demand such as the range from Glebe Farm Foods.
Tony Holmes, Chief Operating Officer at Glebe Farm, states, “At Glebe Farm Foods, we produce the purest, British gluten-free oats that deliver not only on quality but also taste. Our broad portfolio of products therefore helps retailers offer delicious breakfast options that also deliver against certain lifestyle needs.
“Our PureOaty brand of gluten-free oat drinks, granola, and porridge oats are Coeliac UK-certified and a tasty, accessible way to follow a varied gluten-free diet.”
Glebe Farm, has recently launched its new and improved granola range, that sees revamped recipes and a stand-out packaging makeover. The range – now under Glebe Farm’s PureOaty brand – consists of three delicious flavours, Choco Chip, Maple & Banana, and Strawberry.
The upgraded recipes offer even more flavour and crunch thanks to increased oat content in the Maple & Banana and Strawberry variants as well as being HFSS-compliant, while the inclusion of vegan chocolate in Choco Chip makes this indulgent variety also widely accessible. The improved recipes now mean each cereal is certified 100 per cent vegan by the Vegan Society as well as being gluten-free, says Holmes.
The importance of starting the day with a robust, nutritious breakfast is widely recognised and has been a driver in this category. Consumers want breakfast that can be consumed on the go, that delivers in terms of health benefits, but one that also tastes great.
These ever-evolving consumer expectations mean that sales of Kefir within convenience have doubled in the last three years, experiencing a 40 per cent surge in value and a 21 per cent boost in volume, while total convenience healthy yogurts are growing at 48 per cent in value and 39 per cent in volume.
Owing to regular innovation and a flow of new SKUs and flavours, Biotiful Gut Health is UK’s leading Kefir brand.
Shane Nimmo, Convenience Controller at Biotiful Gut Health, says that “gut health” is set to be one of the big wellness trends of 2024.
“Our Biotiful Kefir products are a great source of fibre, and either low in sugar, or with no added sugar. And of course, taste remains key – so we ensure that all our Biotiful Gut Health products taste fantastic.”
In fact, Biotiful is the leading Kefir brand in convenience with a 73 per cent share.Kefir & Protein are the fastest growing subcategories in yogurt in convenience, further testament to the customer appetite for healthy snacking, says Nimmo.
Our lives are such that most of us no longer have time for lengthy meals at home, but instead need something that can be consumed on the morning commute or at an office desk. However, at the same time, consumers don’t want a quick sugary fix, but instead want an offering that provides genuine nutritional benefits, while still being convenient and tasting delicious.
Retailers will need to keep up with this by ensuring products such as Biotiful Gut Health are readily available.
Health is a primary factor when it comes to meal choices in the morning hours hence retailers need to up their game when it comes to healthy snacks that can be consumed in the morning.
A kitchen cupboard must here are biscuits. In fact, healthier biscuits are proven to be the biggest value driver in the category and are growing at 20 per cent.
Consumers are looking for ‘healthier’ ingredients such as oats and other whole grains but will not compromise on taste and this is where belVita emerges as a perfect answer. No wonder, belVita is growing ahead of the category in both volume and value sales and in penetration, frequency and repeat purchase levels.
Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelēz International, states that consumer demand for healthier options is more prominent in the mornings, when they seek out more functional benefits and attributes, and look for treats to keep them going.
Healthier snacking options become even more important as on-the-go consumption demand continues to grow. This growth has already been driven significantly by consumers returning to places of work and study more frequently than in previous years that were affected by the pandemic.
“When returning to these on-the-go routines, we know that shoppers are seeking snacking options for their busy mornings that not only taste delicious but provide sustenance too. belVita is the UK’s leading healthier biscuit brand, with offerings that consumers trust to keep them going throughout busy mornings and beyond,” says Nash.
The belVita range includes 16 flavours and seven textures. With the highest scores in taste credentials within its category, it offers shoppers the ideal combination of taste and nutrition. The range currently includes seven non-HFSS SKUs, including Soft Bakes in Blueberry, Golden Oats, and Red Berries flavours. The range grew further this year as belVita’s Breakfast Biscuits in Honey & Nut and Milk & Cereals flavours were rolled out with brand-new non-HFSS recipes, providing retailers with even more choice when it comes to ranging, merchandising, and promotion in-store.
“belVita has introduced a price-marked multi-pack format on belVita Honey & Nut flavour. As part of the brand’s aim to attract new shoppers and help add value to the category, the belVita Honey & Nut PMP taps into the healthier multipack space within the convenience channel and communicates value to price-conscious shoppers,” Nash from Mondelēz International tells Asian Trader.
Another great product line is Cadbury Brunch Bars, which provide the perfect mid-morning treat for shoppers looking for that iconic taste of Cadbury.
With raisin, peanut, and chocolate chip options, the brunch range has seen strong growth over the past year. To the delight of chocolate-fans across the nation, Cadbury now offers an extended range with the original Cadbury Brunch Oats now joined by Cadbury Brunch Nuts. These bars, new to the Brunch range, combine 40 per cent fruit and nut ingredients with chocolate for a delicious hit of indulgence, Nash says.
Another not to be missed range here is fruits.
Recent data from Mintel shows that fruit is the fourth most popular food to be eaten at breakfast, after cereal, bakery and porridge, and that’s no surprise as many consumers now recognise the benefits of starting the day with something which is healthy and easy to digest.
This is where Dole’s fruit in juice cups range can really come into play here as a credible option, as they can be enjoyed while sitting around the breakfast table on their own or as a topping on yoghurt, cereal or porridge, but also as a snack on the way to work or even at your desk. Dole fruit cups are available in a range of pack sizes from single 113g, single 198g and of course multipacks.
Andrew Bradshaw, UK Sales Director at Dole Sunshine Company, says, “Unsurprisingly healthiness is high on consumers’ radars, with 36 per cent of breakfast eaters saying health reasons have prompted them to change what they have for breakfast over the last 12 months. That’s just one of the reasons why we’ve recently announced an exciting redesign across our fruit in juice range.
“The newly designed packs now feature clear ‘no added sugar’ and ‘vegan friendly’ messages to give consumers the reassurance they need that they will be eating something which is both delicious and healthy,” Bradshaw says.
Noteworthy here is that shoppers now understand that ambient goods not only offer good value and have longer shelf lives. So, while some breakfast products may have risen significantly in price over the last twelve months, consumers can buy a four pack of Dole’s fruit in juice cups for just £2.19 or our 227g small pineapple chunks can for just £1, both of which offer a great tasting and healthy product at a price most can afford.
Bread and Butter
A recent State of the Nation report revealed that toast meals have seen a comeback in UK households as people return to quicker breakfast routines. With toast being the mainstay of the breakfast occasion, it goes without saying that butters and spreads are an essential item too for the breakfast table so should be a key part of the breakfast range.
Bread in itself has evolved and now comes in several variations and formulations. It is best to accommodate a wide range in the store to not only to cater to the ever-evolving tastes and preferences of the shoppers but also to entice them with new innovative lines.
Alistair Gaunt, Commercial Director at Hovis, advices retailers to dedicate about half of the space to white bread to reflect its huge demand and market share.
“The market leader in medium-sliced white bread is Hovis Soft White medium 800g. It’s a good idea to offer shoppers a choice of slice thickness, so add in Hovis Soft White thick 800g to offer both medium- and thick-sliced white bread,” says Gaunt.
With shoppers keeping a keen eye on food waste, as well as an increasing number of single-person households across the country, not everyone wants to buy a large loaf of bread. Tapping on this shift, Hovis Soft White is now also available in a 400g medium-sliced loaf, perfect for those who want full-size slices, but without buying a full loaf.
White Bloomer from Hovis Bakers Since 1886 range is also another great option here. These were launched a few months ago and mark another significant step in Hovis’ journey towards providing traditionally-inspired loaves that redefine the essence of pre-packaged premium bread.
The next sector to consider is bread with seeds and grains, and this is an area where convenience stores could really grow their sales. The nation’s best-selling bread in this segment is Hovis Seed Sensations Seven Seeds.
Brown and whole meal bread accounts for about one in seven of the loaves sold in Great Britain, so it’s an important area to include as well as bread with seeds and grains. Hovis Wholemeal, with its “high in fibre” claim, should be considered a key part of any bread range.
Retailers also consider to keep “free from” category, that is, a loaf made without gluten to cater to the needs of a small but important sector of the market. Finally, one should always keep their eyes open for regional favourite or a particular local brand. For example, if you’re in Scotland, Mother’s Pride Scottish Plain would be a good addition to your range, says the Hovis spokesperson.
Bakery has continued to see premiumisation thrive in the independent sector, because it’s a relatively low-value category. Consumers are spending more wisely, but that doesn’t always mean spending less.
St Pierre, the European bakery and brioche specialist, is going from strength to strength, continuing its upward trajectory and more than doubling sales in the last year with growth of 107 per cent in the UK market, and perhaps more impressively, 56 per cent in volume – bucking the wider category trends.
Josh Corrigan, Customer Development Director at St Pierre Groupe, says, “gains in the last 12 months have come from significant distribution increases with the UK’s major multiple retailers which in turn led to greater consumer awareness of the brand in the independent sector when shoppers see St Pierre products on shelf and goes hand in hand with a prolific stream of new product development.”
St Pierre is adept at developing products that cater to multiple meal occasions, with breakfast being an area of focus. As a result, it is the fastest-growing brand in morning goods.
“Increased distribution of its multipack range of Brioche Swirls and Chocolate Chip Brioche Swirls and Chocolate-filled crepes has driven sales growth of 229 per cent, 278 per cent and 264 per cent, respectively. The brand also launched St Pierre Belgian Waffles with Butter and St Pierre Belgian Waffles with Chocolate Chips recently,” Corrigan tells Asian Trader.
St Pierre’s core range of brioche buns and hot dog rolls have continued to fly this year, as shoppers embrace premium options that allow for easy upgrades to at-home menus. To further drive sales, St Pierre brand has recently launched St Pierre Belgian Waffles with Butter and St Pierre Belgian Waffles with Chocolate Chips.
Another great line to include here is Baker Street’s portfolio that includes a range of traditional sliced loaves, a healthier rye bread range, burger buns and hot dog rolls, all with a longer guaranteed shelf-life to help reduce wastage.
Mark Frossell, Senior National Account Manager at St Pierre Groupe-Baker Street, states, “growth in Baker Street’s Sliced White and Sliced Brown loaves is steady, but the real growth has come from the other products in the range, our healthier rye bread range, and the burger buns and hot dog rolls.”
Baker Street’s range of rye breads – Seeded Rye and Rye & Wheat – have benefitted from demand for healthy alternatives. The rye breads also deliver on the brand proposition for extended shelf life, creating a win-win for retailers and shoppers alike.
Baker Street’s range of burger buns and hot dog rolls are also a must-stock line as they offer versatility across multiple meal occasions, including breakfast and brunch.
Importantly, consumer appetite for the breakfast occasion is growing beyond traditional bread as shoppers seek out new and exciting alternatives, such as wraps and flatbreads which in turn are used for replicating a range of global cuisines and dishes at home, including Asian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Mexican and American.
Mission Foods are known for providing a range of authentic, great tasting, quality wraps and flatbreads, making them must stocks for independent retailers looking to encourage repeat purchase. Retailers should stock innovative products, like the range from Mission Foods, which are ideal for use in traditional and innovative recipes, and suitable for a range of dietary requirements.
Julie Stevens, Head of Marketing UK & Ireland at Mission Foods, states that independent retailers can stand out from supermarkets by offering a range of unique and good quality branded products like wraps and flatbreads, which are not always available in the wider grocery retail market.
“Interest in alternatives is on the rise. Within wraps and flatbreads, we see the most popular flavour variant being plain (or original) – accounting for 50 per cent of Mission Wraps and 52 per cent Mission Flatbread sales,” Stevens says.
Mission Foods has recently launched Mission Plain XL Wraps, a first to UK retail market branded ‘XL’ tortilla Wrap. It offers 30 cm of deliciously soft and tasty wheat tortilla, compared to standard 25 cm branded Wraps and 20 cm own label Wraps. They are the perfect partner for flavour-packed burritos or other super-sized dishes, plus are vegan and suitable for home freezing.
While the bread and wrap section is important and core of corner stores, butter and spreads are equally important. Apart from the usual butter, jams and marmalades, retailers must take care to keep a good range of peanut butter as well.
Currently worth around £148 million in retail alone, peanut butter accounts for £1 in every £4 spent on jams and spreads, so it’s important for retailers to make sure they are offering a premium option in this category to help maximise sales. Importantly, it has emerged that almost half (43 per cent) of shoppers often switch between smooth and crunchy, meaning that it’s important to stock both types.
Growing in demand, Proper Nutty offers affordable premium at a time when people are looking to treat themselves but not break the bank.
“As well as attracting shoppers who want to trade up, we are also finding that a growing number of people are trading out of almond and cashew nut butters and turning to premium peanut offerings,” explains Simon Greenwood-Haigh, Head of Emerging Brands at Associated British Foods. “That way they can still treat themselves, but on a smaller budget.”
Available in original Smunchy, NEW Lightly Salted Smunchy, Proper Crunchy, Yorkshire Roast, and NEW Dark Roast (featuring dry roasted, salted nuts for a deeper flavour), this range is free of palm oil, contain no added sugar, are suitable for those following vegetarian and vegan diets, and come in plastic-free packaging.
“We keep things proper simple, so we only buy the best, single origin, ethically sourced, high-oleic peanuts, which are then roasted before being ground good and proper before going straight into plastic free packaging within no more than two hours, making Proper Nutty the only ‘bean to cup’ peanut butter available.
“In short, we make peanut butter for shoppers who want a better product made in a better way, all whilst offering an affordable trade up from inferior products,” states Greenwood-Haigh.
Proper Nutty is offering a range of in-store point of sale materials. It also runs successful joint promotions with sister brands Billington’s and Allinson’s on key occasions like Pancake Day.
“Occasions are a great opportunity to drive further sales of premium peanut butter,” adds Greenwood-Haigh. “We typically see strong sales uplifts during key moments in the calendar such as Pancake Day, Veganuary, Healthy New Year, and the Great British Bake Off.”
Having a food-to-go section well stocked with freshly made ready to eat breakfast items along with a coffee machine can be a great shopper magnet.
A huge attraction for many stores’ food-to-go section is Country Choices’ breakfast pizza.
Featuring a premium quality hand-stretched base, signature tomato sauce and an irresistible layer of cheddar and mozzarella cheese, along with cooked sausage, omelets, and succulent smoky bacon, the pizzas can be cooked in just 5 to 7 minutes.
Country Choice is known for providing the convenience retail sector with frozen, chilled, and ambient products, including bread, savouries, cakes, pastries, and other food to go lines. Country Choice also offers a wide selection of branded concepts like Hudson’s (gourmet hot dogs and burgers) and Flatstone Pizza Co and Stacked. In addition, the company has developed several bespoke, standalone concepts including: ‘Bake & Bite Cafe’, ‘Swan Bakery’, and ‘The Sausage Roll Co.’
To capitalise on the popularity of the full English breakfast, and pizza, Country Choice has recently introduced a breakfast pizza – the Sausage, Bacon & Egg Breakfast Pizza – as part of its Flatstone Pizza Co. concept.
Phil Carratt, Head of Marketing & Strategy at Country Choice says, “With a tantalising blend of flavours, and easy-to-follow preparation, this delicious breakfast pizza is a great addition to the options available to convenience retailers looking to capitalise on the breakfast opportunity while creating a genuine point of difference.
Gary Thacker, Sales Director at Fri-Jado UK, not only acknowledges the importance of food-to-go but also lays a lot of emphasis on right packaging.
“It goes without saying, that hot holding is crucial. The correct use of hot holding technology will help keep your food at its best for longer – reducing wastage in the process. The right hot holding technology can even help sell an item by enhancing visibility and putting your food in the spotlight,” Thacker says.
Fri-Jado has been a market leader in hot and cold display equipment for the retail sector for more than 80 years. Using the latest technology and innovative design, its equipment ensures an eye-catching, appealing range of breakfast, which in turn remains as fresh and nutritious as the moment it was made.
“It’s no secret that customers buy with their eyes, and therefore using equipment that offers the very best view of the food is essential to driving sales and impulse purchases. Another consideration is versatility. Display equipment naturally needs to be versatile to suit the needs of individual setups,” Thacker tells Asian Trader.
Fri-Jado has recently launched the Multi-Table Top display (MTT) range. Designed with energy saving in mind, the MTT takes much of the technology found in the larger models in its range – ultimately putting food in the spotlight to drive impulse sales and making it easy for customers to serve themselves, which helps to reduce queue times.
Hot Fresh Tips
The importance of value for money has increased significantly in the last year due to the rising cost of living and meal deals are one of the most popular ways for convenience retailers to offer value to their consumers.
According to the most recent data from Kantar, total bakery spend has grown +11.5 per cent, driven mainly by price marked packs (PMPs) +13.3 per cent. Similar research, carried out by Lumina Intelligence reports that 57 per cent of retailers believe that PMPs increase sales, while 71 per cent think that PMPs give shoppers confidence in the price.
Retailers need to offer special promotions that provide value for money. Be fully stocked with the bestselling lines, inform customers of the latest products, and go for price promotions and promote tasting events, thus giving an opportunity for customers to get to know new product lines.
Bradshaw from Dole Sunshine Company advices retailers to have a good selection of healthy and reasonably priced breakfast options which are well merchandised, easy to find in-store, and with at least some of them chilled so they are ready for consumption.
“Our number one focus for the convenience channel is our recently launched 227g cans which offer exceptional value at just £1 and a longer shelf life, and our 198g fruit cups which are the perfect portable and healthy snack for on the go, at the office or at home,” Bradshaw tells Asian Trader.
Corrigan from St Pierre Group advices retailers to cash on stay-at-home trend.
“There is such an opportunity for retailers to inspire shoppers, offering affordable luxuries at a time when they are – economically speaking – more discerning. That’s why we’ve also expanded our merchandising approaches with UK retailers this year – offering new ways to inspire shoppers in-store, increase dwell time and ultimately, drive sales.”
St Pierre work closely with independent retailers and wholesalers to help them maximise the benefit its brand brings to drive sales. Its innovative approach to in-store merchandising has proven successful in US.
“There is an opportunity for independent retailers to drive interest in the fixture with innovative merchandising and we are looking forward to working with our retail partners and wholesalers in 2024, to further improve the shopper experience,” says Corrigan.
He further adds that targeting shoppers having breakfast on the move with morning goods placed by the coffee machine is a great example of how retailers can win in food to go with the right branded offerings.
In autumn last year, Glebe Farm Foods announced the official launch of its revamped website, designed to enhance the shopping experience for consumers and cater to the needs of retailers and operators of all sizes.
With a dedicated trade portal, retailers can now set up a quick and easy-to-use trade account. Thanks to a minimum spending requirement of just £40, even the smallest of businesses can easily stock Glebe Farm Food’s premium products and cater to various lifestyle and dietary needs with ease.
Have a great morning
As more people choose to make their meals at home, stocking top brands that consumers know, identify and love is the key.
Keep in mind that the price of healthy breakfast staple has soared by up to 145 per cent over a year and it could be impacting shoppers’ ability to eat a balanced diet.
Mintel’s breakfast eating habits market research identifies that inflation will impact consumers’ choice of breakfast foods by curbing demand, particularly in the more expensive out-of-home market, in addition to dampening consumers’ ability to buy more premium breakfast items during their weekly shop.
Retailers can respond here with affordability and versatility to continue to appeal to consumers. With shopper habits continuing to evolve, it’s important that retailers carry a strong range of both on-the-go and single-serve products from varied budget ranges.
When financial constraints are at play, stores must offer value. The way for independent retailers to do this is to understand what consumers need and ensure to deliver.