Food and Beverage

Americans Are Redefining How They Eat Breakfast

When you think of a traditional American breakfast, does a full plate with eggs, bacon or sausage, toast, and hash browns served with a cup of orange juice, freshly brewed coffee, or milk come to mind? While we might indulge in this type of big breakfast on occasion, it's not the way most Americans eat every day.

Restaurant News Resource "More than half of our breakfast meals consist of just one or two items," said Dori Hickey, senior manager of product management for The NPD Group, which just released a ground-breaking new study on what Americans eat in the morning. She adds, 'When we look at this by week part, we don't see a marked difference between weekdays and weekends. And over time, the number of items included in breakfast meals has fallen, from 2.46 in 1985 to 2.17 today.'

In fact, consumers viewed only 38% of their breakfast meals as a 'full or complete meal;' 45% of the time it was viewed as a 'small or mini meal,' 5% of the time they described breakfast as more of a 'snack,' and 11% of the time it was a beverage-only situation.


Smaller and more portable mini-meals are conducive to today's hectic lifestyles and convenience continues to be a driving factor behind people's meal and snack choices. Many of the morning food and beverage products available today are quick, easy and portable, requiring only enough effort to simply open up a package.

Taste preferences and familiarity are even more important than convenience as drivers of morning meal and snack choices. Consumers reported that 48% chose to eat/drink what they did because the items they chose were their favorites/what they liked and 48% said it was part of their morning routine.

The top choices consumers make at breakfast meals consumed in the home are:

Some traditional in-home breakfast items have been declining over the past two decades, according to NPD's 21st Annual 'Eating Patterns in America' report, including toast (from 26% of in-home breakfast meals in 1985 to 13% of in-home breakfast meals in 2006) and coffee (44% of in-home breakfast meals in 1985 to 32% of in-home breakfast meals in 2006).

While not as large, the items showing growth at home in the morning include convenience products like granola or cereal bars (from less than 1% in 1985; now at 2% in 2006), yogurt (from less than 1% in 1985 to 2% in 2006), and carbonated soft drinks (from 1% in 1985 to 3% in 2006), and in the longer term, even eggs have shown improvement (from 10% of in-home breakfast meals in 1996 to 12% in 2006).

About NPD's 2006 Morning Need States Study

The NPD Group designed a major syndicated research study to gather information on morning consumption habits of U.S. consumers. NPD's online panelists reported on 'yesterday's' consumption behavior, from the time they got up until 11:00AM. Both kids and adults participated; parents answered on behalf of their children ages 2-5, while all others self-reported.

The study was conducted in two waves; First Wave: Daily mail out of 1,500 per day for 7 days starting March 27, 2006; field closed April 10, 2006. Second Wave: Daily mail out of 1,875 per day for 4 weeks starting June 6, 2006; field closed July 10, 2006. The NPD Morning database was rim weighted to produce a nationally representative sample of U.S. consumers.

Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.