The three largest subcategories all registered double-digit gains (entrée unit sales were up, too). A slew of new better-for-you options promises to keep the momentum going.
Although unit sales dipped 1.1%, breakfast foods fared much better than the frozen department as a whole during the 12 weeks ended Jan. 1, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI (iriworldwide.com). Meanwhile, volume edged up 1.8% while dollars jumped 15.4% to more than $1.23 billion across channels. The three largest subcategories, handheld (+19.5%), waffles (+12.0%) and entrées (+12.1%) all registered double-digit dollar gains, but the entrée segment also saw unit sales rise (+4.8%), driven largely by top-seller Jimmy Dean.
Clearly, convenience remains a top priority among consumers reaching for frozen breakfast foods, but many are also looking for healthy items that mesh with their lifestyle diets.
CONSUMERS WANT IT ALL
To help meet those dual needs, San Francisco-based vegan egg substitute maker JUST Egg is launching JUST Egg Meals, “featuring a delicious medley of colorful vegetables mixed with savory bites of JUST Egg,” says Carrie Kabat, consumer communications director. Following the company’s introduction of JUST Egg Folded in 2020 and JUST Egg Sous Vide in 2022, the frozen meals will roll out nationally during the second quarter of 2023, but will begin to appear on some shelves this month.
“The debut flavor, Chili Crisp, features fluffy bites of JUST Egg and vegetables such as sugar snap peas, roasted red pepper, carrots and green onions mixed with a dash of spicy, crunchy sauce from Fly By Jing, creators of the original Sichuan Chili Crisp sauce,” according to a product description. A second variety, Spring Greens, is reportedly in the pipeline as well.
‘[We want to] fill the empty space between health-first options (which sometimes lack in taste) and taste-first options (where the ingredients are often processed and full of preservatives).’
High in protein and free of cholesterol, the nutritionally complete vegan meals can be tossed into a skillet directly from the freezer, offering ease of preparation desired by busy cooks. In fact, nearly seven in 10 customers say they want to be able to make healthy meals more quickly, according to Mintel research cited by Kabat.
Another company in the meat-free breakfast space, Secaucus, N.J.-based Happi Foodi launched a Plant Based Potato Hash Bowl in Walmart Supercenters nationwide last October. Made with meatless crumbles, russet potatoes, mushrooms and cheddar cheese, the bowl offers 16 grams of protein and can be topped with a sunny-side up egg “for the ultimate protein rich breakfast,” the company suggests.
Demand for healthier breakfast options also led Wellesley, Mass.-based Good Food Made Simple (GFMS) to roll out a new egg white collection, with the goal of offering a morning meal solution that’s high in protein but low in carbs, sodium and calories.
“It checks all of the boxes,” says Sarah Kesseli, director of content marketing. Made with cage-free eggs, the lineup includes fully cooked, microwaveable Egg White Patties; gluten- and cholesterol-free Egg White Omelets in Three Cheese and Roasted Veggie flavors; and keto-friendly Breadless Egg White Breakfast Sandwiches in both Turkey Sausage & Cheddar Cheese and Beyond Meat Plant-Based Breakfast Sausage & Cheddar Cheese flavors.
Premier Nutrition, Emeryville, Calif., is also jumping on the high protein trend. It recently teamed with Chicago-based De Wafelbakkers to create Premier Protein Frozen Pancakes. Ready to eat in 60 seconds, the microwaveable flapjacks offer 15 grams of protein per serving, according to the company.
Brazi Bites, Portland, Ore., is also putting a healthy twist on a traditional breakfast food: the everything bagel. Next month, the company will launch Everything Brazilian Cheese Bread at Sprouts Farmers Market. The new flavor was requested by thousands of consumers via a social media campaign, says Brazi Bites co-founder and CMO Junea Rocha.
“Brands are continuing to reinvent nostalgic childhood favorites with better-for-you versions that consumers can enjoy and feel comfort in eating,” she explains. “We’re also seeing brands tap into popular flavor trends, like everything seasoning, to amplify existing product lines rather than completely reinventing the wheel, giving brands the ability to adapt quickly to what consumers want.”
Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, the new variety combines everything bagel seasoning with the classic comfort-food appeal of cheese bread. Made with simple ingredients and naturally gluten-free, it can be warmed in an air fryer or oven in minutes.
NEW IN THE REFRIGERATED SET
Convenience and health are also top of mind in the refrigerated breakfast category where Paramount, Calif.-
based Tattooed Chef just launched its new Oat Butter Bars. Marking the company’s first foray outside the frozen department, the non-GMO bars come in four flavors — Chocolate Chip, Brownie, Peanut and Graham — each with 12 to 14 grams of plant-based pea protein and no added sugars, soy or gluten.
Touted as a functional food, the bars contain ingredients like vitamin D3 and adaptogens such as ashwagandha, holy basil and reishi “to promote vitality, stabilize one’s mood, and improve performance and focus,” according to the company.
“We are thrilled to finally introduce our Oat Butter Bars as our first step out of the freezer aisle,” says Sarah Galletti, Tattooed Chef founder and chief creative officer. “Mental health is an extremely important part of my life and throughout the last few years I leaned into holistic remedies like adaptogens. After seeing and feeling the benefits of them myself, I was inspired to create a line of plant-based bars to help consumers easily incorporate functional foods into their routines in a product that tastes fantastic.”
Another plant-based refrigerated breakfast innovation comes from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Belgian Boys. Billed as the world’s first “fridge fresh” cereal, the company’s new Pancake Cereal is meant to be warmed up and then served with a splash of milk, combining comfort food familiarity with ease of preparation.
“The idea for Pancake Cereal has been years in the making and originated when the trend first went viral on TikTok in 2020,” says Anouck Gotlib, CEO of Belgian Boys. “We followed it closely to see the consumer reaction and thought about how we could create an easy-to-serve version for Gen Z followers and busy moms alike.” She notes that the vegetarian treat contains no corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. As a result, it can “fill the empty space between health-first options (which sometimes lack in taste) and taste-first options (where the ingredients are often processed and full of preservatives).” The product will be available at Target through the end of the month.
In addition to health benefits, breakfast eaters are also looking for hearty meals that are filling and comforting. Bacon meets those last two needs but not the first. That’s why Telford, Pa-based Godshall’s introduced a new refrigerated product, All-Natural Uncured Canadian Turkey Bacon, at Sam’s Club in January.
Made with U.S.-raised turkey, the thick-cut bacon boasts a wood-smoked flavor from a “signature blend of hardwoods,” including hickory and applewood, and is free of MSG, gluten and nitrates. Designed to appeal to the health-conscious, the new meat offers 12 grams of protein and 90 calories per serving. It can be prepared on the stovetop or in an air fryer or microwave.
“We anticipate that this new product will become an instant hit with consumers looking for a delicious and hearty bacon alternative,” says Francis Yupangco, Godshall’s executive director of marketing.
Yupangco says Canadian turkey bacon has represented a niche subcategory, but he sees it growing in popularity.