What's for breakfast? Re-inventing the first meal of the day

Eggs remain a breakfast constant, but how they are served is changing, AEB says

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Eggs remain a breakfast constant, but how served is changing, AEB says
The iconic “all-American breakfast” combination of eggs, meat and a carb is getting an update to better reflect the increasingly diverse U.S. population, but consumers’ growing expectation to customize their food means what is hot in one region likely is not in another, according to research compiled by the American Egg Board. 

Ethnic-inspired and traditional ethnic breakfast items topped the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 list of “hot”​ breakfast and brunch items, edging out egg white omelets and sandwiches, which came in third with 43% of chefs claiming the dishes were yesterday’s news. However, omelets and sandwiches still beat out more traditional American breakfast foods and perennial favorites, including oatmeal, doughnuts and French toast, according to the association. (Read more about their predictions for 2015 HERE​.) 

Nowhere is the demand and inspiration for ethnic breakfasts more apparent than in New York City, the original landing place for immigrants from around the globe who were seeking a fresh start in the “new world,”​ according AEB.

It noted emerging dishes in New York City that are “ripe to be discovered,”​ include a wide variety of egg-filled dishes, such as Jamaican rancheros, brisket and egg, and shrimp and kimchi fried rice served with eggs and grilled pork belly. More familiar dishes with modern updates include soft scrambled eggs with hard cheeses and spicy egg sandwiches served on croissants instead of bread or bagels.

Ethnic-inspired breakfasts that began in New York, but are now spreading across the country, including a variety of poached eggs, such as shakshuka, salmon latka eggs benedict and poached eggs served with curried lentils, yogurt and cilantro, AEB reports.

West Coast

Breakfast also is quickly evolving on the West Coast and in particular California – where consumers are ditching the traditional bacon and pork or beef sausage part of the all-American breakfast triumvirate in favor of leaner meats and seafood, according to the AEB.

In this region, interest in better-for-you breakfasts is increasing with 50% of Americans interested in healthier options, according to Datassentials. This is emerging as a preference for vegetable-heavy Asian cuisine-inspired dishes and authentic Hispanic fare, AEB notes.

Trendy examples included smoked salmon pizza, shirred eggs with vegetables and dates, grilled asparagus and soft and scrambled eggs with ratatouille.

California’s year-long bounty of produce makes varied vegetarian and local options also popular – a trend that is spreading nationwide.

The South

The middle of the country draws on just as many international influences as the coasts, but it is sticking to its traditional options.

In the South, for example, the breakfast sandwich still reigns supreme with a ham and biscuit combo ordered twice as often as the national average, according to Datassentials.

Other tried and true favorites that continue to dominate the Southern breakfast table include pork chops or chicken fried steak and eggs, chicken and waffles, grits with soft eggs and shrimp, fried catfish, collard greens and plenty of Cajun sausage, AEB reports.

“Beloved Southern dishes boasting long traditions have staying power,”​ and rather than bending to the “forces fueling culinary currents in the Northeast and West Coast,”​ these foods are spreading outwards as the influencer, AEB adds.

As with many restaurant trends, these emerging breakfast preferences likely also will influence how consumers shop for ingredients for the first meal of the day that they prepare at home. Based on the AEB’s breakfast trend observations, potential category winners on the west coast include fresh produce, lean meats, fish and eggs. East coast retailers likely will see increased interest in more decadent cuts of pork, hard cheeses, eggs and yogurt. The middle of the country likely won’t see much change based on the region’s stalwart hold to its traditions.

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