Breakfast Heating Up at Quick-Service Restaurants

Morning meal set to grow 10 per cent by 2016, reports NPD

TORONTO, April 16, 2012 – Breakfast, already a bright spot for Canada’s quick-service restaurant (QSR) segment, is expected to heat up according to leading market research company The NPD Group. The new study, A Look into the Future of Foodservice, finds that nine per cent of the population prefers eating on the run in the morning. This trend has led to a 14 per cent increase in QSR breakfast sales in the past year, but only seven per cent of opportunities are currently being satisfied by the Foodservice industry.

Much of the Foodservice breakfast growth results from Canadians not making it into the kitchen before they leave home in the morning, but it is Canada’s Millennial demographic (those between the ages of 19 and 35) that is driving this trend. In comparison to all other age groups, Millennials rely heavily on QSRs to kick start their days and it is this group that will support the industry’s continued growth in the breakfast sector.

“Major quick-service chains are already fueling the growth at breakfast with expanded menu offerings and aggressive promotions, but there is definitely more opportunity for them to capitalize on the forecasted growth of the morning meal,” said Robert Carter, executive director of Foodservice at The NPD Group. “In order to profit from this trend, QSRs will need to offer menu items that appeal specifically to Millennials and that stimulate the interests of this group.”

Right now convenience is king, but as the Millennial population ages, the levels of concern regarding food and nutrition are expected to rise. As such, the sale of breakfast items that are both portable and low in calories are predicted to grow, with Canadians who are cooking less gravitating towards quick morning meals.

With many restaurant chains picking up on this trend and expanding their breakfast offerings, consumers are already seeing an increase in sandwiches and healthier fare. Within the next five years, healthy breakfast servings are expected to increase by more than 11 million servings amongst Millennials, with opportunities existing amongst products that highlight nutritional benefits, boast smaller portions and are easily eaten in transit.

“To build customer loyalty, it is imperative that QSR menus provide variety, convenience and value for their healthier options,” continued Carter. “Restaurants that effectively develop and market products that meet these conditions will generate repeat business and thrive.”

As breakfast sales continue to climb, innovation and customization will be the key drivers to gaining access to Canadian diners and to building a strong customer base. QSRs that successfully tap into the Millennial market will ultimately get sizzling results. 


A Look into the Future of Foodservice utilizes trended consumer data collected through online surveys from 2007 through 2011, detailing the behaviour of Canadians’ restaurant usage. Together with the Statistics Canada Medium Growth Population Projections, NPD’s proprietary forecasting methodology was applied to the data to forecast what restaurant usage will be by 2016.

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