Servings of breakfast sandwiches increased by three percent in 2015.

Despite the fact that breakfast continues to be the most skipped meal of the day, breakfast has been a bright spot in the foodservice industry in recent years, according to a new report by Technomic.

Consumers’ increasingly fast-paced lifestyles, growing interest in morning fare at nontraditional times and extended all-day breakfast programs are fueling the trend. Lunch and dinner sales may continue to feel the effects.

Among consumers who now purchase breakfast away from home more often than they did a year ago, the majority (60 percent) report cutting back on other daypart purchases as a result.

“Affordable, lighter options and convenient solutions can broaden appeal among consumers who skip breakfast.” explains Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights at Technomic. “And before offering all-day breakfast, operators must carefully consider the implications. While it can drive traffic and incremental sales between traditional dayparts, it also creates significant operational challenges and can cannibalize sales of higher-priced lunch and dinner items.”

Marketing breakfast items as ideal for snacks by targeting younger consumers who are likely to order breakfast for between-meal occasions may drive incremental fare between breakfast and dinner, according to the report.

Expect quick-service operators to continue to add more healthful, responsibly sourced fare catering to the health conscious consumer. Vegetables show room for growth on breakfast menus, as well as other healthful options like seasonal fruit, grains and cereals.

Breakfast is typically more affordable for customers because dishes feature less expensive ingredients (like eggs) than lunch and dinner options. For example, MenuMonitor data shows that the average price of a breakfast sandwich at restaurants is $5.31, while the average price of lunch and dinner sandwiches is $7.67.

Boom Time for Breakfast

Breakfast and morning meal visits grew by 5 percent in the year ending June 2015 over the same period the previous year when visits rose by 2 percent, according to NPD’s CREST foodservice market research. Quick-service restaurants including retail foodservice accounted for most of the visit gains at breakfast.

Lunch was up 1 percent in the period over a 2 percent decline the prior year. Dinner visits were flat. Breakfast sandwiches and bacon, perennially popular grab-and-go breakfast foods, have been growing but so have other not-so-portable foods, like pancakes. Case shipment of eggs (the food item likely to be found in the middle of a breakfast sandwich) increased by 5 percent in the period.

Bacon servings ordered at restaurants and foodservice outlets increased by 2 percent, which translated to a servings volume of 1.1 billion, in the year ending June 2015 compared to a year ago when servings increased by 6 percent.

Breakfast sandwich servings increased by 3 percent, or a total of 3.6 billion servings, over flat growth prior year. Servings of pancakes ordered increased by 7 percent to 816 million servings in year ending June 2015 over year ago when servings were down by 4 percent, according to NPD.

“Growth at the breakfast daypart has been good for the industry and also led to an increase in distributor sales within key breakfast operator segments,” says Annie Roberts, vice president of NPD’s SupplyTrack. “As breakfast traffic continues to grow, competition in the breakfast space will require distributors, manufacturers, and operators to become innovative in providing quality and value at breakfast.”

Corner Bakery Café serves a signature Avocado & Spinach Power Panini Thin, featuring fresh avocado and spinach, scrambled eggs, and Parmesan and cheddar cheeses, on thinly-sliced whole grain harvest toast. Salsa is available on the side by request.

For a unique breakfast sandwich option available, Dunkin’ Donuts earlier this year brought back the Chicken Apple Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. With less than 400 calories, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Chicken Apple Sausage Breakfast Sandwich features a split chicken sausage seasoned with spices and fresh apple, egg, reduced-fat cheddar cheese served on an oven-toasted English muffin.

On the flip side of the equation, Dunkin’ Donuts offers a Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich with bacon slices and pepper fried egg, sandwiched by a glazed donut.

Decadence is a theme for 2016 breakfast offerings. Bruegger’s Bagels’ latest winter menu featured he addition of slow-smoked brisket, available now for breakfast or lunch. Bruegger’s customers can enjoy it in the Breakfast Brisket, a combination of brisket and egg, paired with Muenster cheese, pickled onions and creamy horseradish sauce on a toasted Everything Bagel.

“Our brisket is a flavorful, classic deli addition to the menu that guests can enjoy in a hearty winter breakfast or lunch,” says Bruegger’s Bagels vice president of marketing Judy Kadylak.