Most eat breakfast at home, but fast-food could threaten CPGs, Instantly data suggests

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Most eat breakfast at home, fast-food could threaten CPGs

Related tags: Breakfast, Fast food, Nutrition

Food manufacturers can feel secure knowing that most consumers eat breakfast at or from home, but fast food chains are a competitive threat that cannot be ignored, new research from Instantly suggests. 

Nearly three-quarters of consumers usually eat breakfast at home, compared to only 15% who regularly eat on the go in the car or train and 10% who eat at their desks, according to a survey of 1,000 US adults nationwide conducted by research firm Instantly.

Even when time is tight in the morning, 21% say they still eat at home and 68% of those who said they eat-on-the go when pressed for time said they usually grab something from home before heading out.

All of this is good news for CPG manufacturers that make breakfast foods. But before they get too comfortable, they should know that 45% of time-crunched consumers who eat on the go will pick up breakfast from a drive-thru restaurant – a number that could increase if fast food restaurants offer more healthy options, the poll suggests.

CPG firms’ biggest threat from fast-food chains is McDonalds, which 44% of those surveyed who grab breakfast out said is their “go-to”​ for a fast first meal of the day. Other large fast food chains eked out only a 1-5% of respondents’ votes, the poll found.

Consumer concern about the nutritional content of fast food breakfasts and general interest in eating healthy food could be a large reason why more consumers do not currently eat drive-thru breakfasts.

It found 57% of consumers are concerned about the nutritional content of fast food breakfast. To put this in context, 30% of consumers surveyed said the health benefit of a product is the most important factor when selecting a breakfast. This is a close second to 31% who said taste was the most important factor.

Many fast food chains, however, are starting to offer healthier options, such as fresh fruit, hot oatmeal and egg white sandwiches. Indeed, 52% of consumers told Instantly that they have noticed the change and either agree or strongly agree that fast food menus have become healthier in the past year.

Convenience stores are an evolving opportunity

Convenience stores could offer CPG makers a way to extend their reach to consumers who eat breakfast on-the-go. The Instantly poll found 31% of consumers who eat breakfast on the go do so by picking something up at a convenience store or gas station.

While these venues have historically been the domain of powdered donates, beef sticks and chips, their offerings are evolving to include more fresh and healthy options. In doing so, they are emerging as a destination for millennials and are becoming an increasingly influential retailer for packaged and fresh food manufacturers.

Top breakfast choices

Regardless of where consumers eat, cereal and eggs continue to dominate what they eat.

Cereal is the most frequent breakfast for 27% of respondents – which is notable given this category is seeing significant sales declines.​ Eggs are the second most frequently consumed breakfast with 23% of consumers saying they eat them frequently as their first meal of the day.

After that though, there is a significant drop off to the mid- to lower-single digits for yogurt (8%), granola bars (7%), bagels (7%) and baked goods (6%).

Targeting breakfast skippers

The other threat to breakfast product sales highlighted in Instantly’s poll is breakfast skippers.

More than half of consumers do not eat breakfast every day and 12% “rarely eat breakfast, if ever,”​ according to the study.

Understanding why consumers forgo the meal can help manufacturers identify marketing and innovation opportunities.

The most frequently cited reason for forgoing breakfast was not lack of time, which was cited by 34% of poll takers. Rather, 65% said they skipped breakfast because they weren’t hungry in the morning.

Portable, shelf stable options could address both reasons for skipping breakfast by allowing consumers to take the meal with them and eat it when their stomachs wake up later. In addition, one-handed or easy to eat foods allow time-sensitive consumers to multitask while they eat. 

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