Whether they’re grabbing a snack on the go or sitting down to a full meal, most Americans are eating breakfast. How can bakers find the trends and make the most of them? Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides Inc., a private forecasting think tank for clients in the food industry, will provide some guidance at IBIE, which will be held Sept. 17-21 in Las Vegas.

Ms. Badaracco’s IBIEducate talk, Reinvigorating Breakfast: An Evolution of Consumer and Flavor Drivers for Snacks and Bakery, will be 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20. 

She will also be giving two more talks, How Health and Wellness Trends Influence Snacking and Bakery Trends, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, and Inside the Plant-Forward Trend: Pathways for Snacking and Bakery … What Do Consumers Really Want? at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 18.

Ms. Badaracco shared a couple of insights about her Reinvigorating Breakfast talk. 

IBIE_QA_SuzyBadaracco_ReinvigoratingBreakfast.JPGSuzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides Inc. Source: Suzy Badaracco

 How has the pandemic changed how consumers eat breakfast?

It’s had a few different effects. In general, the younger generations had to up their skills, which was a really interesting consequence of it. The opposite of that is for those who did not have an interest in new cooking skills. They could easily turn to breakfast items for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They could make French toast, they could make scrambled eggs or they could eat cereal for dinner. So breakfast afforded those with limited skills or those who had no interest in upping their skills to eat very simply, very economically during the pandemic. 

Also, it caused the more adventurous ones to look beyond just traditional breakfast items to more global breakfast items. Whether they’re looking at a traditional UK breakfast, Japanese breakfast, or what they are doing in Greece. That was coming out in social media or in cooking magazines. 

Consumers are going back out to eat, but they are being a little more thoughtful about it. Especially with inflation, they’re not going out as much. So if they do go out for breakfast, it might be a lovely brunch they do once a month. Or they might be going out to meet up with friends and family. It’s more purposeful. Also, they’re eating breakfast at home because it saves money. 

How do snacks and bakery intersect with these breakfast trends?

For the last few years, snacking has really annexed — annexation is when an item or a trend has moved into a new territory and set up shop permanently — breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are two reasons why. 

One reason is because of COVID and inflation. When we were at the height of COVID and the recession, it moved in because of stress. We were more stressed so we snacked more. And the other reason it took over meal parts is cost savings. Those who lost their jobs couldn’t afford breakfast, lunch or dinner, so they were substituting snacks because they’re cheaper. 

Bakery for breakfast has to span sweet to savory. Bakery for breakfast can’t just be sweet because obesity is back as a focus for consumers. They need savory bakery such as a handheld sandwich. Bakery drivers also include complete nutrition. We want to be a little more health focused. Also, with bakery and snacking, it’s helpful to be handheld because consumers to a great extent are back in the office so they’re back to driving, eating in their car and eating at their desk. 

How can bakers craft messaging to get ahead of consumer behavioral changes?

The No. 1 thing they need to know about messaging is they’re not the hero in consumers’ lives. They are the guide in the consumers’ lives, allowing the consumer to be the hero whether they’re saving money by buying your product or they’re introducing fabulous new flavors or global flavors to their family or their friends. Bakers need to be Obi-Wan Kenobi and the consumer is Luke Skywalker. 

Bakers, snack companies need to start looking at the parents of trends, not at consumers. Consumers are the fallout of the trend. You have to be looking at the political changes: What is the new BA 5 COVID strain going to do to consumers? What are Monkey Pox going to do? What is the Ukrainian conflict going to do to consumers? That’s where you have to look.