Often called the most important meal of the day, breakfast during the pandemic is decidedly central to how consumers boost their resilience, and consequently it's become more complex. 

As we discussed in our podcast "Breakfast: Reliably Routine and Becoming More Complex," even before the pandemic we were noting some distinct characteristics and shifts within the breakfast occasion, namely, that health needs tended to be more elevated at breakfast relative to other dayparts, with consumers focusing on sustained energy and an overall desire for breakfast to "do more."

Fast forward through the effects of the pandemic, and breakfast has taken on several characteristics that include a heightened need for convenience (consumers report that perceptions of "busyness" have actually increased with their hectic work/life schedules during COVID-19). 

Needs that relate to health and wellness such as an increased desire for fresh and less processed and moderation have increased significantly during breakfast occasions as consumers look to proactively support their health and immunity with food and beverage choices.

Our recent white paper Eating Occasions 2020 supports these insights and notes that 33% of all eating and drinking occasions in 2020 were about basic health and well-being. While this is similar to 2019 (31%), there are some key variations across dayparts. 

Morning occasions like breakfast and early-morning snacks were much more likely to be focused on health, a focus that declined throughout the day. After-dinner snacks (often considered "dessert") is the least likely of all dayparts to be focused on health.

In general, the pandemic has driven (and continues to drive) a heightened emphasis around the food-as-medicine approach to eating, alongside an increasing demand around functional foods and beverages that support health, specifically those geared towards immunity. 

As a need state in eating behavior, functionality was particularly important during the early-morning snack occasion, with 52% of occasions involving the need for foods or beverages with a special health benefit (up 8 percentage points from 2019).

More Information:

Health + Wellness 2021: New syndicated study now fielding