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    Top of the Morning

    The breakfast daypart is a bright spot in the grocer’s frozen case.

    By Lynn Petrak

    The sun seems to be rising on the breakfast daypart when it comes to frozen foods.

    Recent research from Chicago-based IRI reveals slightly declining overall sales for frozen entrées and meals geared toward lunch and dinner occasions, but slight increases for frozen breakfast foods. According to data for the last 52 weeks ending in late December 2014, overall sales of frozen breakfast foods are now just less than the $3 billion mark ($2.945 billion). Within breakfast, sales of frozen hand-held breakfast items and frozen breakfast entrées edged upwards, even as sales of frozen bagels and muffins dipped.

    The upswing in hand-held breakfast entrées is evident in a variety of new products falling under that description. Dinuba, Calif.-based Ruiz Foods, for its part, has found breakfast to be a welcome daypart. “Our El Monterey Signature PM Burrito flavors and our El Monterey Breakfast Burrito … both reflect exactly what today’s consumer is looking for,” President and CEO Rachel Cullen notes, adding that consumers seek convenient items that are high in protein.

    “Consumers know that protein helps them feel full longer, so they are reaching for high-protein foods, especially in the morning or for snacking occasions.”

    Hands-on Innovation

    Many other brands have developed hand-held breakfast offerings. Artisan Bistro’s frozen portfolio includes entrées for lunch and dinner as well as breakfast. “We offer a range of products and flavors that appeal to convenience-focused food lovers of all kinds, including entrées, hand-held burritos and breakfasts, for any time of day,” says CEO Leo Griffin. To that end, the Irvine, Calif.-based company recently launched Beyond Breakfast items made with sustainable ingredients that are at least 70 percent organic, including cage-free egg whites.

    Meanwhile, the Lean Cuisine brand, from Solon, Ohio-based Nestlé USA, has added a new morning collection that includes a Turkey Sausage Scramble, a Veggie Scramble, a Turkey Sausage English Muffin and a Veggie Egg White English Muffin. Another Nestlé brand, Stouffer’s, recently rolled out a line of Morning Classics, including a Bacon & Egg Scramble and a Southwest Scramble. The venerable frozen breakfast brand Eggo, from the Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co., recently debuted breakfast sandwiches, too, with waffle-style bread encasing sausage, egg and cheese, among other varieties.

    In another twist on portability, stalwart breakfast player Jimmy Dean, part of Chicago-based Hillshire Brands, has come out with breakfast items on a stick, including Original Pancakes and Sausage, Blueberry Pancakes and Sausage, Very Berry Pancakes and Sausage, and Apple Cinnamon Pancakes and Sausage. And the Pillsbury brand, from Minneapolis-based General Mills, has introduced single-serve Heat and Go miniature waffles and pancakes for the freezer section.

    Bigger May Be Better

    On the other side of the portion spectrum, larger packages of breakfast foods are in demand as well. According to Howard Waxman, food analyst at Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts, balancing individual and family consumption is one way for frozen food companies to meet myriad needs and boost their market share.

    “Frozens can take advantage of the multiple family-size needs of consumers,” he points out. “Packaging can contain multiple discreet individual servings that can be accessed by a single person for several dining occasions, or by a couple using two individual servings, or a family of five consuming all the individual servings in a package.”

    “Consumers know that protein helps them feel full longer, so they are reaching for high-protein foods, especially in the morning or for snacking occasions.”
    —Rachel Cullen, Ruiz Foods

    By Lynn Petrak
    • About Lynn Petrak

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