Meet the new lunch opportunity – bigger, sooner

October 27, 2011

A lot of breakfast skippers could signal a shift towards bigger lunches, possibly eaten on the earlier side.

How much healthier is America really eating when one out of 10, or 31 million people, skip breakfast, according to the latest data from NPD Group’s Morning MealScape 2011 research? And if much of the nation is in a tug of war each morning – to fuel up with the right foods or dash off to work and responsibilities because time is tight – what does this imply for lunch, dinner and snack-time opportunities for supermarkets?

If surveyed consumers spoke candidly to NPD (there were more than 27,000 online respondents, after all), these breakfast-skipping figures suggest to us at The Lempert Report that ‘bigger may be better’ for lunch because people need the energy, and that could lead to ‘lighter’ for dinner, also a plus for weight control. (By the way, we do think some people say they skip meals to make themselves appear busier, or more weight-conscious, or to avoid embarrassment over what they really eat). 

Still, supermarkets could potentially sizzle at lunchtime with pre-assembled meal components and prepared foods sized to help compensate for a skipped breakfast – especially if they’re ready and displayed early enough for people to buy once they encounter their late-morning energy swoon.

Food stores could be even more successful if they segment these food offers to consumers likeliest to skip the morning meal. According to NPD, 28% of males between 18 and 34 skip breakfast, compared with 18% of males 35 to 54 and 11% of males 55 and older who miss the meal.  Among women, 18% age 18 to 34 skip breakfast versus 13% age 35-54 and 10% age 55 and older.

Meal skippers cited other reasons as well for missing breakfast. Among them:  they weren’t hungry or thirsty, or didn’t feel like eating or drinking. Women were likelier to say they skipped because of a time constraint.