Fruit, healthy proteins and yogurts/parfaits are on the rise for breakfast menus in the next two years, according to research from The Big Picture. For most operators, the predicted increase in these categories is due to providing healthier options for customers.
Yogurts/parfaits, at 39%, is the breakfast category that hospital operators expect to have the most growth in the next two years. Carl Hall, executive chef for Baylor Medical Center’s Frisco, Texas, campus, says parfaits will be popular because customers are looking for something that’s healthy, light and easy to grab in the morning. They are also looking for something different than traditional pancakes and eggs, Hall adds.
“We’re definitely seeing a group of people who are asking for healthy items at breakfast,” says David Cross, general manager for Sodexo at the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, D.C. That’s why Cross is offering more healthy breakfast proteins such as turkey bacon and chicken sausage. He’s also seeing growth in sandwiches and wraps because customers are “looking for something that’s nutritious and that they can get quickly and go.” Cross offers sandwiches that use flatbreads, English muffins and croissants as the bread base.
Although not colleges’ top breakfast growth category, ethnic entrées are expected to increase in sales, according to 27% of university operators. Edward Krol, executive chef at Youngstown (Ohio) State University’s Kilcawley Center, says he currently offers breakfast pizzas, burritos and tacos for his students. He has seen an overall increase in breakfast from younger and Hispanic students. “With the economic downturn and people eating out less for dinner, breakfast is the cheaper alternative when eating out,” he says, explaining his projected sales increase of ethnic entrées.
Growth in breakfast is fairly even among many of the categories. The area with the highest expected growth is healthy breakfast proteins, at 27%, with fruit (26%), traditional breakfast proteins (26%), eggs/omelets/quiche (23%) and baked goods (23%) following closely. Brad Lange, director of dining services at Park Regency in Chandler, Ariz., likens his breakfast to a Denny’s, saying residents can choose whatever they want, cooked to order. He says offering an assortment and giving customers the opportunity to choose is key in resident satisfaction. Lange also offers a weekly special, such as an omelet station, which helps keep interest up in the morning. Not all LTC/senior living directors expect a growth, however, with 25% of operators saying no category will grow in the next two years.
Fruit is the top breakfast growth area for schools, with 57%—significantly more than in other markets—expecting this category to gain ground in the next two years. The finding isn’t a shock considering that schools on the National School Lunch Program must soon offer students one cup of fruit at the morning meal each day. The concern for some child nutrition operators is that the growth is driven by a federal mandate and not because of student demand. Many directors believe the produce will end up in the trash and not in students’ stomachs.