3 ways to capitalize on shifting dayparts

savory yogurt parfait

From Dannon Foodservice.

What consumers eat and, most importantly, when they’re eating it has changed significantly in recent years, signaling opportunity for operators able to capitalize on this evolution.

For example, some 83% of consumers said they were daily snackers in 2016, according to Technomic’s Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report. That’s up from 76% just two years earlier. Snacking is growing across many channels from retail prepared foods to bakery and coffee cafes, fast-food locations and more.

Busy lifestyles, smaller households with greater meal flexibility and the growing idea that snacks are part of a healthful diet have all contributed to this uptick in snacking behavior.

More than just snacking, though, there’s been a blending of all dayparts, from breakfast and brunch to dinner and late-night. College students want pancakes at 11 p.m., savory grain bowls at 8 a.m. and grab-and-go yogurt parfaits from morning ‘til late at night.

In fact, consumers are increasingly heading to FSRs for brunch and late-night dining occasions, driven particularly by younger diners. And those same young diners are also looking for healthful, inventive offerings with unexpected flavors at all dayparts.

So, how can operators make the most of these shifting dining habits?

Offer smart snacks

Move over potato chips and candy bars: The definition of snacks is changing to include ethnic offerings, downsized versions of menu favorites and better-for-you options.

Virginia Tech Dining Services, for example, serves yogurt parfaits until 2 a.m. every day. And enhanced snack offerings at Union Collegiate Academy in Tulsa, Okla., have generated a tremendous revenue boost for the district, largely by repurposing items from other dayparts that might otherwise have gone to waste. Leftover fruit from breakfast gets added to yogurt parfaits and surplus chicken tenders get tossed in ranch and rolled in spinach flatbread for grab-and-go wraps.

Younger consumers, especially, are drawn to the concept of mix-and-match snack offerings, so consider offering bundled snack options to allow for customization.

And there’s still plenty of room for FSRs to take advantage of eating occasions outside of the three squares. Full-service restaurants should position shareable small plates as well-suited for any time of day.  With consumers increasingly considering snacks part of a healthy diet, be sure to offer nutritious snacks such as yogurt, fruit and nuts.

Capitalize on blended dayparts

If the explosive popularity of all-day breakfast is any indication, consumers are increasingly demanding a wide range of foods at non-traditional times. Consider menuing your most popular breakfast items at dinner or late at night. Boston College, for example, saw super sales for acai bowls at breakfast, so the staff attended a yogurt-topped version during lunch.

Bakery and coffee cafes are seeing a boost at afternoon and evening occasions. Offering dishes such as salads, savory parfaits and breakfast sandwiches throughout the day will help these operators make the most of this shift.

FSRs can seize this opportunity with expanded menu offerings from brunch, happy hour and late-night menus. For these menus, be sure to present a range of healthful and indulgent items in a wide range of sizes—from snack-sized portions to large plates.

Play up innovative, healthful foods

No matter the daypart or meal occasion, consumers—especially millennials—are looking for innovative flavors and unexpected combinations. Items such as globally inspired street food snacks and spicy all-day breakfast offerings are growing in popularity. Some of these dishes pair well with another increasingly popular item: yogurt in savory applications. Minneapolis Public Schools uses yogurt as a base for a salad dressing that's spiked with tarragon and dill. Yogurt’s health halo makes it an appealing choice for dips, spreads, sauces in more in a wide range of dishes.

Capitalizing on the blurring of dayparts with smart snacks and trendy dishes will appeal to consumers of all ages, particularly millennials. Wring more profit from your menu by catering to snackers and those seeking foods at non-standard times.
 

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