Breakfast: Thinking outside the cereal box

Breakfast chili

From Bush’s Best®.

While decadent plates of French toast and pancakes stacked high will always be breakfast favorites, it’s undeniable that savory breakfast items are on the rise in many foodservice operations. Menu items such as avocado toast and omelets aren’t new, of course, but consumers’ preferences for better-for-you food choices, along with their desire for global flavors, are driving this trend.

According to a recent Technomic Breakfast report, consumer demand for vegetarian ingredients has led to an increase of ingredients like soy, tofu, beans, lentils, seeds, and cereal grains on breakfast menus. Here’s how to get in on the trend.

Savory breakfast flavors across dayparts

According to the Technomic Breakfast report, 51% of consumers say it’s important or extremely important for foodservice locations to offer breakfast sandwiches, wraps or burritos for breakfast. Compare that to consumer preference for baked goods—44% say they want those—and it’s understandable why operators are trying to add more savory options to their breakfast menus.

Additionally, many consumers say they’d purchase breakfast food at nontraditional times, which could be why more menus are featuring savory items. Fifty-nine percent of consumers say they’d purchase breakfast food at dinnertime, compared to 45% for lunch. As for what breakfast foods they’re likely to eat at nontraditional times, savory options rank high. Sixty-four percent of consumers say they’d consider ordering eggs, 61% say hash browns/potatoes, 54% say a breakfast meat side and 48% say breakfast wrap/sandwich/quesadilla.

Flavor trends influencing breakfast items

Beyond dayparts influencing what people want from breakfast foods, other trends, such as better-for-you foods and global influences, are helping shift breakfast to the savory side. Sweet breakfast items such as pancakes, waffles or muffins aren’t known for being especially diet-friendly, while platters featuring bacon, eggs and toast can easily be lightened up by using turkey bacon and whole wheat toast, for instance.

Beyond the standard breakfast sandwich or breakfast burrito, savory breakfast items such as fried chicken and breakfast bowls are making waves, as are ethnic options.

At Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Cheyenne, Wyoming, patrons can dine on the Homestyle Sausage Breakfast Bowl, which includes scrambled eggs, and at Cornell University’s Risley Dining Hall, guests can try out shakshuka, a dish featuring eggs baked in a savory, spicy tomato sauce.

As for globally-influenced savory breakfasts, Best Western Plus’s Monterey Beach Resort restaurant offers guests the Carnitas Benedict, which features jalapeno, tomatoes, onions and two poached eggs over grilled English muffins with housemade Hollandaise sauce.

Other globally influenced breakfast items trending on menus include congee, an Asian rice porridge, and okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake often featuring eggs, shredded cabbage, meat or fish, vegetables and other ingredients.

For operators looking to expand their savory breakfast offerings, think outside the (cereal) box—try new formats of foods, such as bowls, use ingredients that align with consumers’ desire to eat healthier and draw inspiration from breakfasts around the world.

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