While there always has been a certain portability associated with morning meals, from donuts and pastries to toaster waffles, today’s marketplace for breakfast foods exemplifies the increasing on-the-go nature of early daypart consumption, with more single-serve, heat-and-serve and hand-held packaged products.

Mary Chapman, senior director of product innovation for market research firm Technomic, Chicago, cites the recent launch of a breakfast sandwich at the quick-service restaurant chain Taco Bell.

“The commercial focuses on the fact that you only need one hand to eat it,” she noted, adding that grab-and-go and on-the-go breakfast meals and snacks are showing up “more and more.”

Consumers’ evolving eating habits have impacted both food service and retail segments.

“Looking at how people are dining, we’ve found that more people are seeing retail supermarkets and c-stores as an option for breakfast because of the convenience factor,” she pointed out.

One example of the influence of convenience and portion size in breakfast foods is the roll-out earlier this year of new belVita Bites, mini breakfast biscuits in chocolate and mixed berry varieties from longtime biscuit manufacturer Mondel?z International. The biscuits are sold in a box with five single-serve, 50-gram pouches.

In March, Honey Bunches of Oats came out with a similar product in a pouch and box format. Honey Bunches of Oats Breakfast Biscuits feature individual packages of four crunchy biscuits made with whole grain and touted for “dunking companions” to beverages like coffee and tea and spreads like Greek yogurt and peanut butter.

Waffles, too, now come in single-serve pouch format. Last year, Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., introduced Eggo Bites, microwavable portable pouches of mini waffles and French toast.

In addition to multi-packs of pouches, many on-the-go, single-serve breakfast options are in bar form and feature better-for-you ingredients for consumers who are as health-conscious as they are convenience-oriented.

“Consumers’ health needs and perceptions have changed, from interest in low-cal and low-fat to ‘Get me through the day with something wholesome and high in protein,’” she explained, adding that as a result, many newer hand-held breakfast foods feature ingredients like whole grains and exotic berries.

One example of that new type of product comes from the venerable Quaker brand. Earlier this year, Quaker introduced new Protein Baked Bars, with 10 grams of protein and 8 grams of whole grain oats in peanut butter chocolate and oatmeal raisin nut varieties. Each box contains five individually-wrapped bars.

Looking ahead, the new generation of on-the-go breakfast doesn’t seem to be fleeting. According to a report from market research publisher Packaged Facts, the packaged baked goods market is pegged to reach $5 billion in sales by 2017, driven by consumers’ health concerns and the ongoing desire for convenience and portability.