Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of The Day

We’ve all heard the age old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, as many of us can attest, when life gets hectic (as it often does) breakfast is also often the most ignored meal of the day.

For many of us, breakfast means grabbing something quick, simple, and convenient during the morning rush, or simply skipping out on the meal all together.

Not surprisingly, foodservice operators have honed in on this dilemma. Over the last few years we have seen significant innovation at the breakfast day part – in many cases this means new offerings that are health conscious, quick, convenient, and affordable.

According to NPD’s CREST® foodservice market research, breakfast traffic and consumer spending at breakfast have increased consistently over the last five years. In fact, consumer spending on breakfast this past quarter was the highest it has been since Q1 of 2016. This growth has mainly been driven by Quick Service Restaurants and Casual Dining. Operators have taken notice of the emerging popularity of breakfast and are now offering a variety of options to cater to time-strapped consumers. Furthermore, the last 3 quarters have shown an increase in average eater cheques at breakfast after 4 quarters of steady declines in 2016 and 2017.

Top Breakfast Food Categories

Total Canada
Breakfast Sandwiches
Hash Browns/Home Fries


NPD data suggests that breakfast sandwiches are the top growing food category across Canada. Consumption of breakfast sandwiches is now up to 700 million annually in Canada, an eight per cent over last year, according to The NPD Group. Many Quick Service operators such as Tim Hortons and McDonald’s have contributed to this growth as they have continuously introduced new breakfast sandwiches and innovative spin offs on breakfast sandwiches that include wraps, bagels, and pastries.

Consumers are also showing a preference to “grab and go” at breakfast.  Off premise occasions have increased by +7 per cent year over year, now making up 43 per cent of all breakfast occasions. Clearly this is another example of consumers taking advantage of innovative new products that are quick to prepare, easy to eat, and budget friendly.

When it comes to breaking down breakfast consumption by region, Ontario leads the way with 41 per cent of overall breakfast consumption, followed by Western Canada with 31 per cent, Quebec with 21 per cent, and Atlantic Canada with 6 per cent.

And finally, no discussion around the breakfast day part would be complete without first touching on the emergence of what might be the hottest new trend in foodservice – all day breakfast.  As we have seen over the last year, this is a trend that many operators have come to embrace. And while it’s still too early to determine how this trend will impact the industry overall, we have seen a tendency for consumers to turn to breakfast items more often as an afternoon snack or as a fourth meal during the day. How will the growth of this new expanded category impact other day parts? Only time will tell. However, one thing is for certain, the growth in breakfast and its overall popularity goes to show that operators are doing their best to cater to the emerging demands of consumers.

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Press Contact

Erick Bauer

The NPD Group, Inc.
900 West Shore Road
Port Washington, NY 11050

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