According to The NPD Group, breakfast accounted for nearly 60 percent of the restaurant industry’s traffic growth during the past five years, and if not for the breakfast daypart faring relatively better than other dayparts, restaurant visit declines over the last two years would have been steeper.

NPD’s foodservice market research shows that for the year ending March 2010, there were more than 12 billion morning meals served at U.S. restaurants, and 80 percent of restaurant morning meals were purchased from quick-service restaurants.

During the past five years, morning meal traffic increased an average of +2 percent per year, comparatively, while lunch visits were flat, and supper traffic declined by -2 percent per year on average.

“Breakfast has been and is projected to continue to be a bright spot for the restaurant industry,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “A restaurant morning meal serves a variety of needs. In addition to helping us jump start our day, it satisfies the need for convenience, is less costly than other restaurant meals, and is readily available to us.”

Recognizing the importance of the morning meal as an opportunity to capture share as well as build consumer loyalty, major chains have recently announced expansion into the breakfast daypart. NPD’s QSR Market Monitor, which monitors local market activity for quick-service restaurant chains, finds that one reason for this expansion is that consumers who visit a chain for more than one daypart, tend to be more loyal, more likely to recommend the chain, more frequent visitors, and contribute more volume.

Two of the fastest growing menu items these restaurant visitors order are specialty coffee and breakfast sandwiches, both of which contributed to the breakfast daypart growth. From February 2005 through February 2010, servings of specialty coffee and breakfast sandwiches grew twice as fast as the industry.

According to a soon-to-be-released report by NPD titled The Future of Foodservice, which provides a 10-year forecast of foodservice trends based on aging, population growth, and trend momentum, servings of breakfast sandwiches are projected to outpace the industry’s growth forecast. Annual servings per capita of breakfast sandwiches at foodservice are forecasted to jump from 11 in 2004 to 14 in 2019.

“There is a lot of activity around the breakfast daypart right now, with chains expanding into the daypart, and the addition of breakfast menu items, promotions and deals,” Riggs says. “Currently only one out of 10 breakfast opportunities is satisfied by foodservice, and there are more breakfasts skipped than served in restaurants, all of which means that breakfast is a significant growth opportunity for the foodservice industry.”

Breakfast, Menu Innovations, News