29 Feb 2016 --- Nutritionists frequently refer to breakfast as the most important meal of the day, citing studies that find that people who skip breakfast are disproportionately likely to have problems with concentration, metabolism and weight. The distinction between what makes a breakfast a good one, as we know, differs from country to country.
Even so, there are large numbers of people who still skip breakfast on a regular or occasional basis, most often citing lack of time or lack of appetite, but is this having a negative impact on health?
Eggs for breakfast
Western ideals of what constitutes as an ideal breakfast usually consists of eggs – a versatile and protein-rich food and one of the largest sources of lecithin in the human diet.
The American Egg Board believes consumers’ indulgent desires play an important role in breakfast trends. Indulgent breakfast foods are appearing all over on menus and at retail. These foods, whether eaten out or at home are viewed as treats, rewards or celebratory, and definitely crave-worthy. Seasonal flavors like pumpkin, eggnog and peppermint can fall into this category, as do specialty cheeses, dinner-centric meats paired with eggs and global twists on familiar dishes.
Elisa Maloberti, American Egg Board, director of egg product marketing notes: “While there’s been a lot of focus on all-day breakfast in foodservice, consumers never had a time restriction for breakfast at home. Breakfast for supper isn’t a new trend. What’s new is the creativity and unique ingredients we’re seeing in prepared breakfast items—from ethnic flavorings to a broader selection of cheeses, vegetables and meats.”Click to Enlarge
Serena Schaffner, Director of Marketing Communications, American Egg Board told FoodIngredientsFirst that when it comes to eggs and weekday breakfasts, consumers want to keep egg preparation simple. She explains: “We know from consumer research as well as site traffic on IncredibleEgg.org that consumers are looking convenience which has resulted in a growing interest in 'on-the-go' preparations like cooking eggs in a mug in a microwave or making their own breakfast sandwiches they can take out the door.”
Schaffner believes that the nutrition benefits of eggs have always been well-known. “One large egg containing 6 grams of high-quality protein, no sugar or carbs all for 70 calories. And, starting your day off with a nutritious breakfast like eggs is something research and consumer sentiment has supported.”
Interestingly, the growing interest surrounding protein-rich diets has played into the growing popularity of eggs. Schaffner says: “People are now more interested in consuming protein at all-day parts, including breakfast, versus saving it all for dinner. Eggs are an excellent way to meet this requirement.”
She adds: “Now that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans remove the daily limit on dietary cholesterol and include eggs in all three recommended healthy eating patterns, we expect to see eggs continue to be a mainstay at the breakfast table for a long time.”
The breakfast cereals market is now very large, with a value of over $20bn globally, it is relatively mature and highly competitive in its most established countries, including the US, the UK and Australia.
Kellogg recently reported a $41m loss and a sales dip of over 10 per cent, the company is undertaking a cost-cutting initiative, which it says is helping it reduce its losses. Its core US business has suffered years of decline but the company say this is now improving.Click to Enlarge
John Bryant, chief executive and chairman of Kellogg, said: “Our results in 2015 met or exceeded our initial expectations. We saw good growth in many of our businesses, and importantly, trends continue to improve in the US Cereal business.”
Kellogg, like its rivals, is trying to meet consumer trends towards healthy cereals by adding ingredients which consumers see as healthier. Kellogg’s biggest division, US morning foods, reported sales growth of 1.5 per cent after adding healthier ingredients. Overall, in its core North America market, net sales were down 8 per cent in the quarter. But Kellogg said it had seen improving trends, in snacks and morning cereals, in the period.
The cereal market as it stands, is increasingly facing competition from other products targeted at the breakfast occasion, both established and new and its responses have included new formats and packs more suitable for on-the-go consumption.
Eating on the go continues to be one of the leading trends targeted by the food and drinks industry as formal meal patterns and increasingly busy lifestyles have brought about something of a revolution in the format and content of our diets. Nearly all meal and snack occasions can now be turned into ‘on-the-go’ eating options, companies are diversifying their products and increasing their range of formats to target this type of consumption.
Porridge and other hot oat cereals have been more successful in individual pot formats to date. These include instant products that just need the addition of milk or water prior to heating and microwaving, as well as some more premium ready-to-heat products sold through chill cabinets. The US and the UK have led activity in this area, reflecting the high level of consumption of breakfast cereals in general, and hot oat cereals in particular. This perceived lack of time has been crucial in the rising demand for breakfast ‘on-the-go’ options and has helped to drive the further development of the market.
FoodIngredientsFirst spoke with Moma Foods, a London based food company who specialize in making oat products like porridge and muesli for people on the go. Brand Manager of Moma Foods, Andi Sumner discusses the importance of a nutritious breakfasts for busy lifestyles: “The need for a healthy breakfast is the fundamental reason Tom, our founder, started the business. Our current campaign has run with the tag line ‘Start your day awesome’ meaning with a healthy, filling breakfast your start your day the best way possible.”
Sumner adds: “It’s important to kick start your metabolism to give you energy to make it through the day or at least the morning until it’s time to refuel the body again, our oat products are a great source of carbohydrates which provide slow releasing energy for the morning and also bridge the gap between breakfast and lunch.”Click to Enlarge
Moma Foods have seen a recent re-surge of popularity in porridge which has resulted in a 65% increase in their own porridge products sales. Porridge as a basis to a variety of breakfast toppings is making it the healthy alternative to toast.
Sumner explains: “If you look on Instagram alone the #porridge has been posted over 800,000 times in the UK. We constantly research social and blogging platforms to see what the influencers are talking about,” she adds, “This has had particular reference to influence on our most recent Porridge NPD – dairy free Coconut and Chia pot and Super Seeds porridge both using trending ingredients as well as a plant based diet offering (only the coconut product is a dairy free option).”
The company are currently working on sugar reduction and moving more products to free from. Sumner says: “All of our porridge is also gluten free (with one variety being dairy free) and we hope for the rest of the range to move to gluten free within the year.”
Moma Foods are also exploring what other oat based products would be relevant for breakfast consumers in need of a convenient but healthy option. She adds: “Oats are a great source of fiber and beta glucan which can help to reduce cholesterol, as appose to eggs for example, which are high in cholesterol.”
Researchers at the University of Bath, UK, launched the 'Bath Breakfast Project' to take a closer look at the relationship between breakfast, weight and health.
Senior Lecturer in Nutrition & Metabolism, Dr James Betts, lead the research where groups were split into two – one group to 'breakfast' and the other to 'fast'. The researchers requested the breakfasting group to eat at least 700 calories by 11 am for six weeks. The participants could choose whatever they wanted to eat, as long as the first half of the calories were consumed within two hours of waking up. In contrary, the fasting group could not consume anything except water until at least midday.
The researchers found that during the course of the day both groups consumed similar amounts of calories, with those who fasted until noon over compensating for the lack of morning calories by eating more later in the day and the breakfasting group ate less during the day. The research also found that the breakfasting groups showed higher levels of physical activity in the mornings.
Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Dr James Betts told FoodIngredientsFirst that he suspects that different breakfast types might exert different effects on some of the outcomes.
As the participants in this study were allowed to choose their own breakfasts the team now want to research further the effects of different breakfasts. Dr Betts explains: “Our research moving forwards now hopes to establish what types of breakfast choices could be best for health and we hope this will provide us with more information to make recommendations about what types of breakfast could be best for health.”
Lead author on the study, Dr Enhad Chowdhury, also cautioned that: "It is important to bear in mind that not everybody responds in the same way to breakfast and that not all breakfasts are equal. The effects of a sugary cereal compared to a high protein breakfast are likely to be quite different."
This type of research will be key to uncovering new strategies to developing the healthy products that will succeed as tomorrow’s most important meals of the day. As the traditional breakfast cereal market faces saturation and even decline, innovative breakfast choices, both in terms of formulation and delivery, will be required, in order to truly stand out on the shelf.
by Elizabeth Kenward
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