A Renaissance Year for Breakfast - Especially Eggs?

February 27, 2015

If new dietary guidelines revitalize egg consumption, supermarkets could stir up fresh sales opportunities.

Originally published in the Feb. 26, 2015 issue of the Facts, Figures & the Future e-newsletter.

The nation's egg suppliers wished upon a star - and their dream is about to come true.

For the first time in more than 50 years, eggs could be sold notunder the weight of a cholesterol warning. Demand should rise if the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee files its springtime report with USDA and HHS (after the public comment period), and sticks to its decision to no longer caution against eating foods that contain cholesterol. This would likely result in new federal dietary guidelines that crack open new sales opportunities for eggs and egg products.

Chickens may sweat out their new performance metrics, but supermarkets and restaurants should start thinking now about their new prepared food dishes, how they can market breakfast foods from multiple areas of the store for every daypart, and how nutritionists and dietitians can help consumers understand the potentially greater role of eggs in their daily diets, says Facts, Figures & The Future (F3).

Eggs could ride high in 2015 and beyond for other reasons too, says F3:

  • They're a less costly protein source than meat and seafood - and the protein trend is hot.
  • Sixty-three percent of consumers agree it is unhealthy to skip breakfast - some 31 percent never skip it on weekdays, 41 percent never skip it on weekends, and many seek healthier options, Technomic data show.  
  • A majority of women in all age groups 25 and older say they "are more likely to eat breakfast at home than other meals." Among older Millennials age 25-34, 53 percent say this - as do 50 percent in the 35-44 age group, 65 percent in the 45-54 age group, and 54 percent in the 55 and older age group. By comparison, 49 percent of 18-24 year olds say this, notes Technomic. Portable, affordable, healthy options from the frozen foods aisle, center-store and deli takeout areas are good choices to meet this demand. 
  • Nearly half of America (48 percent) says they "enjoy eating breakfast foods at nontraditional times, such as...eggs for dinner or a late-night meal," Technomic finds.  Geographically, this is truest in the South (53 percent); ethnically, this is truest among African-Americans (58 percent).

U.S. per capita egg consumption has been depressed for decades - after peaking at 421 in 1945, individual consumption stood at 250 in 2012, a near bottom, show USDA statistics in a recent Washington Post table. Yet if 2015 becomes a renaissance year for breakfast, eggs could start on a nice roll.  

Eggs are already beginning to advance. After a 1.8 percent unit decline in 2012, and flat performance in 2013, eggs moved up by 1.6 percent to 2.24 billion dozen in calendar 2014, show Nielsen all-outlet data for UPC-coded items (including convenience stores) for the 52 weeks ended December 27, 2014. A 10.6 percent dollar sales rise to $5.92 billion in 2014 came after a 4.9 percent gain in 2013, both helped by price hikes.

Some egg segments showing high percentage dollar-sales gains in 2014 include:  quail eggs, up 46.7% to $663,599; organic eggs, up 19.0% to $423.1 million; and brown eggs, up 14.4 percent to $568.7 million. By contrast, egg substitutes were all down by double-digits.

In other breakfast foods, the Nielsen data show:

  • Yogurt's rate of dollar sales growth slowed by more than half in 2014, to 3.7 percent to $7.40 billion.
  • Snack bars posted a 2.2 percent dollar sales gain to $3.73 billion, largely on the popularity of fruit bars (21.6 percent unit rise) and crunchy granola bars (6.2 percent unit rise).