4 ways to boost snack sales during breakfast

cafeteria tray line breakfast pastries

From Mondelēz International Foodservice.

Breakfast and snacking are two of the biggest trends influencing foodservice today—and together, they can spell opportunity for operators.

It’s no secret that breakfast is where the growth is. In fact, consumers cut back on lunch and dinner visits to restaurants in 2013 while increasing their breakfast visits for the fourth consecutive year, according to research from The NPD Group.

Although breakfast as a traditional daypart is on the rise, breakfast also plays well during other times of day. 48 percent of consumers say that they enjoy eating breakfast foods at non-traditional times, according to Chicago research firm Technomic, which means that operators need to have a good representation of breakfast-oriented snacks throughout the day.

A large payoff awaits operators who can satisfy consumers’ varied breakfast tastes along with their appetite for snacking. 49 percent of consumers eat snacks between meals, and 45 percent replace one or two daily meals with a snack, according to Technomic. Having the right mix of items—including breakfast sandwiches, breakfast biscuits, beverages, yogurt, cookies and desserts—ups the chances of success. Here are a few thoughts on how to seize the breakfast opportunity with snacks.

Convenience rules

Make it quick and easy for customers to grab breakfast snacks and beverages and check out. Having the right items available when and where consumers want them—such as single-serve packaged snacks and desserts in handy racks and merchandisers at the cashier stand—is essential.

Coffee is key

Breakfast consumers expect high-quality coffee. Operators who cut corners are leaving money on the table, both in coffee sales and in companion items, such as single-serve packaged baked goods, cookies and breakfast biscuits. That’s why concepts of all sorts—not just the trendy coffee shops—are paying greater attention to their beans. For example, Chick-fil-A is touting its new specialty-grade brew, and Dunkin’ Donuts is upping the ante with its first dark-roast coffee.

Court the mindful snacker

Consumers are eating traditional snack foods, particularly snacks with a perceived health benefit, in between and at meals, says The NPD Group. The strongest growth of snack foods eaten at meals will be in the better-for-you categories, such as refrigerated yogurt, bars and fresh fruit. Thus, it’s wise to include some breakfast snacks with better-for-you credentials, such as items made with whole grains, higher protein or reduced sodium content, in the merchandise mix.

Indulgence is sweet

Although healthful eating is a trend that can’t be ignored, consumers crave a moment of pleasure periodically—even at breakfast. Technomic notes that 35 percent of consumers, up from 33 percent in 2010, report eating dessert items at least weekly for a midmorning snack. Having some sweet treats on display can pay off in increased impulse sales.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
kale quinoa salad

With all the hype around probiotics, we decided to create a daily dish that incorporates probiotics in addition to prebiotics. You rarely hear about prebiotics, and this was a great way to highlight how the two work synergistically to maintain a healthy gut. Our chefs have developed menu items such as roasted salmon with yogurt and mint vinaigrette; kale and quinoa salad with warm maple dressing; and leek soup with pickled cucumbers, to name a few.

Ideas and Innovation
packaged meals

While the multiple-choice questions on FoodService Director’s annual census surveys are a great way of gathering data on trends, I’ve always been rather partial to the open-ended queries. We can’t possibly think up every answer operators might have to a particular question, and it gives respondents a chance to show some personality as well. (A special nod to one cheeky operator’s not-quite-safe-for-work response to how they’re tackling shortened lunch periods—you made my day.)

So this year, for the first time since I’ve been at FoodService Director, I chose to include a very open-...

Menu Development
ramen bowl spoon chopsticks

Asian noodle soups are a popular lunch option at YouTube’s San Bruno, Calif., campus, says Trent Page, the GM at Bon Appetit Management who runs the company’s three corporate dining venues. But Page noticed an increasing preference for customizable dishes and vegan preparations among the 1,000 customers he feeds daily. Inspired by a recent visit to Japan, he introduced tsukemen to the menu—a dish that features most of the traditional ramen ingredients (noodles, eggs and vegetable garnishes) served separately so diners can mix and match. “Separating the components makes it more customizable...

Ideas and Innovation
chicken dinner

For the last three years, we’ve hosted an event called Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner. We sponsor the local chapter of Future Farmers of America to raise the chickens, and we have to arrange all the transporting from farms to the distributor, which keeps the birds in a freezer until we’re ready. We build hype by having students vote on the proprietary spice blend they would like on the chicken. It helps the nutrition team get involved in the educational process and showcase local food purchasing.

FSD Resources