Widely viewed as the most important meal of the day, breakfast accounts for 19.8 billion occasions and is eaten by 98% of the UK (Kantar).

A number of new consumer trends are emerging, largely stemming from the increasing number of people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

Firstly, and unsurprisingly, that the number of in-home breakfast occasions has increased by +4.8% year on year whilst out-of-home has decreased by -34.9% (Kantar) as a result of the lockdowns over the past year.

Convenience has remained a key trend and priority for many consumers over the course of the pandemic too.

Although the majority now have more time in the morning thanks to working from home and no longer need to eat breakfast ‘on the go’.

Last year, 52.3% of breakfast servings were chosen for practicality, for example being quick to prepare.

“Clearly consumers are still looking for quick and convenient breakfast options, and wholesalers should use this insight to offer stock that appeals to convenience-driven consumers looking for easy, filling options to help fuel the day ahead,” comments Toby Baker, Marketing Director UK, Nestlé Cereals UK. “Additionally, another trend we’ve seen is changing consumption times. Consumers have increasingly eaten their breakfast at a later time in the day, with the number of occasions seeing a decline early in the morning and an increase between 8am-1pm as well as significant growth at Noon-1pm, +106% (Kantar). More people are perhaps looking to get an extra hour in bed or fit in a quick exercise routine before starting the working day from home. Given the UK’s workforce has now started to return to work outside of the home – with shops and offices gradually reopening – it will be interesting to see if this trend reverts back over time. It is likely many people in the UK will remain working from home for some time however, so it would be no surprise if later wake-ups and breakfasts continue for a while yet.”

This year Nestlé Cereals launched Organic Honey and Chocolate Cheerios, which marks Cheerios’ UK’s entrance into the organic market. With an estimated £200m a month now spent on organic food and drink in the UK, families are placing greater emphasis on leading better lifestyles, focused on wellbeing and sustainability. Organic Honey and Chocolate Cheerios is made using organic honey hoops from five organically farmed whole grains, with tasty chocolatey cereal pieces for the whole family to enjoy. All agricultural ingredients are sourced from farmers following organic farming practices. The product is organic-certified, and licensed to be stored and sold in the UK by the Soil Association.

Nestlé Cereals has also launched Shreddies The Simple One, which is a new take on the family favourite brand. Designed for health-conscious consumers, it is made using just four simple ingredients – whole wheat, banana puree, date syrup and a pinch of salt – but with no compromise on taste.

Nestlé Cereals currently holds just under 20% of the market and its products continue to be family favourites at breakfast time (Kantar). Overall, the company has seen value performance, sales and market share increase year-on-year.

During lockdown it was the core, traditional brands, Shreddies, Cheerios and Shredded Wheat, that sold best.

“We know that demand for healthy breakfast options is high, with around 25% of breakfast occasions chosen for health reasons last year,” adds Baker. “As more and more consumers wake up to the benefits of nutrition, and seek to lead healthier lifestyles, there is an opportunity for wholesalers to accommodate this demand by stocking the right options.”

A long-term focus for Nestlé Cereals has been helping wholesalers encourage healthier breakfast choices by expanding and reformulating its product ranges. Over the past decade, the company has taken steps to add more whole grain into cereals and make it easier for consumers to know which cereals contain whole grain as the number one ingredient and to increase awareness of its benefits.

In the UK most people do not eat enough fibre with the average intake sitting at 17.2g per day for women and 20.1g per day for men, despite the recommended average intake for adults being 30g per day. Research suggests that the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes may be up to 30% lower in people who regularly eat wholegrains as part of a low-fat diet and healthy lifestyle.

Eating cereal made with whole grain is also an easy way to increase fibre intake. Nestlé’s cereals contained 106 million more servings of whole grains (1700 tonnes) in 2020 when compared to 2010 and Nestlé Cereals products with a Green Banner – including top sellers Shredded Wheat, Cheerios and Shreddies – now contain at least 8 grams of whole grain in each serving- with many including a lot more. “As more people are waking up to the benefits of whole grain, wholesalers can maximise sales by providing products that signal whole grain content,” says Baker.

“Wholesale is an incredibly important channel for us as a business, and we are always looking to develop our existing wholesaler relationships, while also forming new ones,” stresses Baker. “Our sales team work to foster and grow these partnerships, in order to find new, and innovative ways to work together and build effective business plans. This is what will ultimately help us drive sales and continue to provide more for our customers.”

Ben Simpson, Kellogg’s revenue & channel director, said: “In the last 12 months NPD has remained a priority for us, as we know that’s what our shoppers want to see and what they find enjoyment in. We have introduced over 11 new products into the market in the last year alone, most recently having launched W.K Kellogg by Kids Bars and Strawberry & White Choc Flavour Coco Pops.”

Kellogg’s has announced new Strawberry & White Choc Flavour Coco Pops, a limited-edition version of classic Coco Pops that combines the flavours of smooth white chocolate and juicy strawberries.

With 30% less sugar than other chocolate flavoured cereals, Strawberry & White Choc Flavour Coco Pops turns milk pink, guaranteed to add a splash of colour to breakfast.

The new addition follows the successful release of White Choc Coco Pops in 2019, with more than three million boxes flying off shelves in the first six months alone.

The limited-edition cereal retails at £2.99 (480g) and is available now, for 12 months only.

The strawberry and white chocolate cereal contains no artificial colours or flavours.

In 2017, Kellogg’s reduced sugar in Original Coco Pops by 40 per cent to help families make healthier choices in the morning.

Darryl Burgess, Head of Sales for Weetabix, comments: “The cereal category is worth £77m in the total impulse category, up 15% year on year (Nielsen). Convenience stores have played an incredibly important part in people’s lives since lockdown and this boost looks likely to continue. Having a well-stocked breakfast category with all of the core and top-selling cereal brands has never been more important in a changing breakfast occasion as people look to purchase more day-to-day items from their local stores.”

Weetabix invested a significant amount in researching the breakfast opportunity during lockdown. Breakfasts at home clearly became the norm during this period – 98% of breakfasts are now in the home and cereal has been the real winner, firmly establishing itself as the breakfast product of choice, while other categories have remained flat.

Cereal brands performed really well during this time suggesting people were looking for familiar products during a period of uncertainty. Weetabix Original performed well and sales for Weetabix Minis Chocolate also rose 44% (Kantar).

Consumers have returned to cereal because of its versatility – it’s quick and convenient but can also be personalised with additional toppings and different milks, which taps into the trend for personalised breakfasts. Breakfast has become more of a social occasion in the past year, with 53% eating more together as a family. Younger people have also returned to the breakfast table, with a 2.8% increase in cereal consumption compared to 2019 – a recent study has found that younger people have found the lockdown has helped them reconnect with their family as they cook and enjoy more mealtimes together – and that they wish to continue this going forward.

Health will come back to the forefront in the months ahead. There will be more looking to lose weight following their lockdown diets, whilst improving general health and immunity will be a focus – 80% say they will make greater attempts to stay healthier as a result of Covid-19.

Weetabix Original is a low sugar cereal, and has all green traffic lights on pack to make it easy for shoppers to make a healthy choice.

“With a ban on HFSS promotions on the horizon for retailers, it’s important they are confident in offering healthy options to consumers that can still deliver growth for their stores, such as Weetabix, Ready brek and Alpen Light Bars. Some of our more indulgent products such as Weetabix Chocolate and Chocolate Crispy Minis also have strong nutritionals and are non-HFSS, allowing retailers to meet the growing demand for indulgent yet nutritious cereals,” suggests Burgess.

“Retailers should ensure they’re stocking a variety of products, focused on a core range of best-sellers, including Weetabix Original, Alpen, Weetabix Minis, Weetos and Ready brek. We’ve seen multipacks increase in popularity during lockdown, especially for our cereal bars and drinks, and we expect this to continue with more people working from home.”

Weetabix, the UK’s number one breakfast cereal brand (Nielsen), returned to TV screens in January. The campaign encouraged the nation to start the day right with versatile, inspirational recipe ideas and featured the by-line now synonymous with the brand – ‘Have You Had Yours?’

Ready brek, the £10million (Nielsen) smooth porridge brand, returned to TV screens this year as it brought back its popular ‘Central Heating for Everyone’ campaign. Ready brek is outperforming the category in both value and volume, growing at 5.8% year-on-year compared to just 1% for the total hot cereals’ category (Nielsen).

Weetos, the wholegrain chocolate hoops cereal valued at £15m and growing at 31% year-on-year (Nielsen), unveiled a fresh new look this March. The refreshed packaging outlines the brand’s sustainability credentials, with all cocoa used for the wholegrain cereal certified as sustainable by UTZ.

Alpen, the nation’s number one muesli brand, worth over £60m, celebrates its 50th birthday this year. The campaign will include a new TV advert, supported with a digital and in-store programme. A new variant has joined the Alpen Light range – White Chocolate, Raspberry & Shortcake, appealing to UK consumers who are looking for healthier snacks.

Matt Goddard, Wholesale Trading Director, PepsiCo, comments: “We have seen that breakfast consumption has grown over 2020, fewer shoppers are skipping their first meal of the day. With health back on people’s agenda and with shoppers having a little more time to prepare as a result of remote working, Brits have eaten 660m additional breakfasts in-home since the start of 2020 (Kantar). The hot cereals segment has helped fuel this growth, with approximately 57% of hots segment sales happening within the colder months (Kantar). Oats also provide a versatile breakfast option all year round, whether being enjoyed in the colder months as a warming bowl of porridge, or as an overnight oats option, which we see becoming popular with shoppers in the spring and summer.”

PepsiCo commissioned a shopper sentiment study to get to the bottom of the nation’s ever-changing feelings, habits and behaviours. It found people are now eating breakfast two hours later, and a third of people are spending more time making it. Additionally, consumers are considering the health benefits of what they eat and drink more, which is likely to see segments that are natural and unprocessed experience growth.

“As a natural, raw ingredient, Quaker Oats lends itself to scratch cooking solutions, helping shoppers get creative with their breakfast at the start of the day,” adds Goddard. “Adding additional ingredients to their oats, helping to keep the first meal of the day, healthy, tasty and exciting. Wholesalers should therefore stock across our range of Quaker Oats, allowing retailers to cater for consumer demand of naturally-occurring health benefits.”

In a recession, people are likely to turn to brands they trust for good value, so value in 2021 is all about stocking brands that people know and love. The total Quaker PMP range grew by almost +17% (Nielsen) last year. Quaker has launched a new RRP price-marked pack format for its Porridge to Go range, available in two flavours; Golden Syrup and Strawberry and Raspberry & Cranberry.

Paulina Gorska, Marketing Manager at Schulstad Bakery Solutions, Lantmännen Unibake UK, comments: “It’s no surprise that the industry now looks very different to how it did at the start of last year. Whilst we continue to navigate these challenging times, our mission at Schulstad Bakery Solutions is more important than ever – to ensure you and your customers can experience the joy of delicious bakery products.”

There were approximately 815m bakery occasions in 2020, with consumers choosing sweet treats to be eaten out of the home and 133m of those involved a Croissant, with Almond Croissants experiencing the fastest growth YoY. Therefore, ensuring access to a wide range of Danish pastries and Viennoiserie is essential to any offering. With over half of Brits eating Danish pastries and croissants weekly, they are a vital consideration for wholesalers that serve cafés and coffee shops. Danish pastries are seen as both a staple breakfast option and as a perfect snack throughout the day, with 57% of consumers saying that they choose Danish Pastries as a between-meals treat.

Despite the government restrictions imposed due to Covid-19, coffee shops and cafés remain the most popular location for shoppers when purchasing sweet bakery items, with 24% of consumers buying from this channel. In addition, croissants remain a top sweet bakery breakfast item, accounting for 15% of all breakfast occasions eaten out of home – and here quality is the key. Indeed, 44% of croissant buyers select quality as a reason for choosing the establishment.

“Wholesalers should stock high-quality products made with real butter, with a light open texture,” says Gorska.

Schulstad Bakery Solutions Croissants are available in three different flavours: classic All Butter, indulgent Chocolate and flaky Almond which is filled end-to-end with smooth almond paste and topped with flaked almonds.

“Both range and quality are essential considerations for foodservice wholesalers when choosing which pastries and croissants to include in their offering. Schulstad Bakery Solutions’ wide range of sweet treats assures customer satisfaction in both of these areas,” suggests Gorska. “Caterers should be offered popular variants such as the Maple Pecan Plait, Cinnamon Swirl, Vanilla Crème Crown and Plain and Filled Croissants – all of which offer premium quality and great taste.”

Breakfast continues to be a key occasion for consumers when picking up something on the go. In fact, 17.8% of all eating-out occasions happen at breakfast time (Lumina), which means it is vital for outlets to include a selection of convenient options, such as pastries in grab bags, to help drive incremental sales in the morning. What’s more, shoppers are spending more on breakfast – an average of £5.61 per occasion, which is a +1% growth on the year – as choice and variety increase (Lumina).

Pastries are seen as a staple breakfast option, with over half of Brits eating Danish pastries and croissants weekly, so they should be a key consideration for any food-to-go offering. In fact, 84% of retailers that sell sweet bakery goods agree that Croissants and Danish pastries are crucial in driving sales, meaning they are a must stock for retailers to remain competitive.


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