Between work-at-home mandates and stay-at-home preventative measures, the eating habits of everyday Americans have changed dramatically over the last couple of years. That’s why Symrise has analyzed the top breakfast trends for 2022 for the food and beverage industry.

By reviewing the data surrounding both retail food and beverage outlets and the service side, we have created a comprehensive look at the earliest meal of the day. Breakfast has always been considered the most important meal of the day, but new breakfast trends have changed how many Americans view this meal.


Here is a look at the findings surrounding post-pandemic breakfast trends:

Remote Work Creates “Third Space” Opportunities 

Even though a large percentage of workers have been able to work from home, research shows they’re ready to leave the four walls of their homes. That’s where restaurants have an exciting opportunity during the traditional morning breakfast hours. They can serve as the “third space” — not the office or home, but another work location. 

To be effective, restaurants will need to create mobile ordering programs, loyalty and other incentives, and menus that balance both healthy and indulgent offerings. Marketing locations as a place for work can help, as can offering breakfast classics with a twist throughout the day.


Home-Cooked Breakfast Will Wane

Although cereal consumption was up in 2020, researchers expect that people will be eating breakfast out more regularly as pandemic fears start to decrease. This change will impact foods that are traditionally breakfast items. Still, there will be less impact on foods that can easily transition into mid-morning snacks, such as granola or sweetened cereals.

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Ease of Preparation Most Important for Morning Meal

For those preparing their breakfasts at home, surveys of adults over 18 show that the most critical factor in deciding what to eat is if it’s “easy to prepare.” For approximately a third of the survey participants, energizing and filling foods were preferable. 

Lower on the priority list were top breakfast ingredients that were “light,” “high in vitamins/minerals,” and “low sugar/calories/fat.” Still, fewer cared about foods that were especially “indulgent,” “sweet,” “portable,” or “savory.”


Encouraging Breakfast for a Different Meal or Snack

Research shows that 40% of people eat breakfast foods at other times of the day. For brands looking to encourage transferring consumption beyond breakfast, here is a look at the foods people are already eating for breakfast:

  • Cereal: 88%

  • Breakfast breads: 83%

  • Yogurt: 75%

  • Savory frozen breakfast entrees: 58%

  • Sweet frozen breakfast foods: 56%

  • Frozen breakfast sandwiches or wraps: 52%

Related: Top Post-Pandemic Morning Snacking Trends


People Go Nuts for Doughnuts 

One of the surprising breakfast consumer insights is the significant growth different doughnut varieties have experienced as one of the fastest-growing breakfast dishes. Beignets have risen 83% in popularity over the last year, while jelly or fruit-filled doughnuts have enjoyed a 26% increase. 

Specialty doughnuts are also trending, with an 18% increase. Overall, the doughnut category has risen by 7% as a breakfast choice.


Nonfat, Natural, and Vegan: Health Claims Have a Place at Breakfast

Restaurant owners still understand that American adults can’t — or shouldn't — eat doughnuts all the time. Trending health claims include a 20% increase for the term “nonfat,” while “natural” was used 7% more than last year. 

Using the term “vegan” for marketing purposes saw a 4% increase on breakfast menus, with imitation meat, plant-based pork, and oat milk gaining popularity.

Top Breakfast Flavors

The top breakfast flavors differed for Americans and globally. For the American palette, popular flavors include:

  • Cinnamon raisin

  • Cheesecake

  • Lime

  • Blackberry

  • Sage

  • Citrus

  • White chocolate

  • Peach

  • Caramel

  • Peanut

Globally, the trendy flavors for meals and baked goods include:

  • Sesame

  • Oaxacan

  • Mango

  • Cajun

  • Sriracha

  • Mexican

  • Italian

  • French

For baked goods, some up-and-coming flavors include birthday cake, vanilla crème, nutmeg, and rainbow sprinkles.


Related: Pandemic Trends That Are Here to Stay


Get Inspired by New Menu Items

Top breakfast foods are often a mix of traditional classics that include a sense of nostalgia and new menu items. At Paris Baguette, they now offer a coconut cream-filled croissant finished with coconut flakes and powdered sugar. 

Matador Restaurants, meanwhile, now serve Chilaquiles Divorciadas, which has queso sauce, white corn chips, rojo and verde sauces, jalapenos en escabeche, pico de gallo, garlic, crema, guacamole, queso fresco, and cilantro. It's served with either beef barria or Beyond brand picadillo.


Genders and Generations Make Different Breakfast Choices

Overall, men tend to choose less healthy foods for breakfast than women. The first choice for men is cold cereal, while it’s eggs for women. 

Bread is the most popular breakfast item for boomers. Millennials and Gen X choose eggs, while Gen Z and post-Gen Z opt for cold cereal. Sweet options are popular among younger palettes, while savory items grow more popular as people age.


Start With Coffee: Popular Breakfast Beverages 

When it comes to the top breakfast beverages, coffee and specialty coffees are expected to grow in popularity. Nutrition and protein drinks and shakes will also be more attractive to consumers, as will plain cow’s milk and plant-based milk, such as almond and oat. 

As for breakfast foods expected to grow in popularity, experts see fruit, especially bananas, gaining attention. Hot cereals and grits, cold cereals, sausage, frozen meals, and yogurt will also be trending.


Breakfast as a Snack: Morning Meals Expand

Finally, those in the food and beverage industry are likely noticing that consumers aren’t just having breakfast and lunch but also enjoying a mid-morning snack. While we’ll look in-depth at this eating occasion in a separate blog, it’s interesting to note that some restaurants and brands are overlapping breakfast with snacking. 

Classic pastries and indulgent sweets are getting a makeover into portable items ideal for quick snacks on the go. For example, Huddle House offers blueberry muffin bites, and PAUL French Bakery & Café sells a mini beignets box with 30 mini sugar and chocolate hazelnut donuts to share...or not.

Eating breakfast out at a food service establishment is popular throughout the week, although the trend is slightly elevated on weekends. Whether consumers in 2022 sit down for a full meal or take a snack-ready breakfast to go, these breakfast trends will be something we continue to follow.


To learn more about our products and insights, get in touch with our team at Symrise today, Contact us here! 

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