Smashed avocado on toast with friends, maple-slathered pancakes with the kids, a coffee and croissant on the way to work – breakfast out of home can take many forms.

But when the pandemic forced the world to slow down the weekend treats and daily rituals were forced to retreat inside the home. So, has it bounced back in 2023? If so, what do consumers want from breakfast outside of their home?

Pain au raisins on a plate with cups of coffee and orange juice

Source: Délifrance

Breakfast occasions are rising

Breakfast occasions accounted for 4.1% of occasions in the out of home (OOH) market in 2022, according to data from Lumina Intelligence for the 52 weeks ending 25/12/2022.

This shows a steady improvement on the year prior when they accounted for just 3.5% of occasions.

“Despite consumer OOH food and drinks spending being 8% lower than 2019, the UK has seen the most significant year-on-year growth in OOH food consumption, up 48% compared with 2021,” says Erwan Inizan, Northern Europe sales director at Bridor.

“With many people adopting either a full-time work from home routine or commuting for a select few days mid-week, fluctuations in the ‘grab and go’ market have spiked.”

Even better news is that “consumers are primarily looking for bakery items when eating breakfast out of home,” according to Katie Prowse, senior insight manager at Lumina Intelligence.

This is confirmed by Lumina’s data which shows the top five dishes at the out of home breakfast occasion are:

  • Pastry 11%
  • Sandwich 9.1%
  • Stew/Soup 5%
  • Muffin/Cupcake 4.8%
  • Fruit 3.9%

“Breakfast seems to be experiencing a renaissance,” adds Stéphanie Brillouet, marketing director at Délifrance, attributing this to social media, apps and that people had more time to prepare breakfast during lockdowns. “The result of this has been an increase in breakfast occasions, and 22% of respondents in our research said they’re now eating breakfast more frequently.”

There is variance across the age groups, as Brillouet highlights that 35 to 44-year-olds dine-in most frequently while 18 to 24-year-olds dominate the on-the-go breakfast market – 32% buy an on-the-go breakfast at least a few times a week.

McDonald’s is the breakfast king (but there’s room for other players)

McDonald’s dominates the breakfast market, according to data from Lumina Intelligence, which shows the fast-food giant accounts for 12.2% of out-of-home occasions. Greggs is a close second though followed by a host of the big coffee players and the likes of Wetherspoons.

“Consumers are looking for familiarity, value and convenience when eating breakfast out of home,” explains Prowse. “The main breakfast operators are fast food and QSR brands. These outlets are well positioned to meet consumer needs through having numerous outlet locations, offering quick service, and providing value for money. Yet local and quality is also important to consumers, helping drive the success of independent operators.”

Greggs bacon roll

Source: Greggs

Notably, many of the top operators offer competitively priced breakfast meal deals meaning consumers can get food and a caffeine hit for a reasonable price. For example, those visiting Greggs can get a breakfast roll or pastry, plus a hot drink, from £2.60 or a breakfast baguette and hot drink from £3.70. Visitors to Costa, meanwhile, can get a bacon, sausage or vegan bap for £2.50 when purchasing a medium or large beverage.

Operator% share of out-of-home breakfast occasions





Independent coffee shop, bakery, or sandwich shop


Costa Coffee








An independent / local restaurant


Street food vendor


Caffè Nero


Source: Lumina Intelligence 52 w/e 25 December 2022

Pastries in paper bags next to two takeaway coffee cups

Source: Getty Images

Price points are crucial as cost-of-living bites

Price is more crucial than ever in the current economic climate meaning operators need to look closely at their pricing and deals to appeal to consumers.

“Loyalty schemes and subscriptions appear to be working, guaranteeing repeat visits for a high proportion of users,” notes Brillouet from Délifrance. “And with over half of OOH breakfasters not yet using one, this indicates untapped potential for food operators.”

Notably, according to data by Lumina Intelligence, ‘good value for money’ was the second most popular reason for choosing an establishment with 29% of consumers saying so. ‘I’ve been there before’ was the most popular as noted by 31% of those surveyed. Proximity/location (27%), fast service (15%), friendly service (14%) and ‘it’s local and independent’ (13%) were also among the top reasons for choosing an establishment.

Christina Honigfort, head of marketing at New York Bakery Co, believes the cost-of-living crisis means “purchasing habits are shifting towards a treat mentality” as consumers look to treat themselves in smaller ways when possible. “Purchasing a tasty, filling, and nutritious breakfast is one way in which consumers are allowing themselves to have a treat,” she says.

However, she warns that some consumers may reconsider dining out in the first place. “The economic climate may also encourage consumers to reduce the amount of money they are spending on breakfast out of home and lead to an increase in at-home breakfast occasions,” she adds.

A pancake stack with syrup and blueberries on top

Source: Getty Images

A healthy start? It depends on the day

What a person is looking for from breakfast out of home may change depending on the day, particularly whether it is a weekday or weekend.

“During the week we recommend operators focus on convenient ‘on the go’ bakery items but at weekends consumers are looking to treat themselves,” believes Stuart Meikle, commercial director, Aryzta UK & Ireland. “That could be with indulgent bakery items or with something new and different.”

It may also depend on the reasons why consumers are eating out of home. Lumina Intelligence data found the top reason for this was simply being ‘out and about’ which was noted by 12.3% of those polled, followed by eating out being a treat (11.8%), being part of their routine (11.5%) and travelling/commuting (11.4%). Spending time with family and friends was also noted.

“Out of home breakfasters are less resolute about choosing healthier options,” explains Brillouet from Délifrance. “When dining out, they want something special and opt for more lavish breakfasts - from cooked breakfasts such as eggs Benedict, through to pancakes and waffles.”

Burgers and fries are also climbing the list of indulgent breakfast items, as Prowse from Lumina Intelligence notes, with consumers seeking non-traditional breakfast items.

Two burgers with runny fried eggs, mushrooms and double patties

Source: Getty Images

Breakfast burgers are growing in popularity

David Colcombe, chef ambassador for Maple from Canada UK, believes that a balance can be struck between indulgence and health. “Consumers want to treat themselves but are also health conscious,” he says. “The trend for all-natural ingredients and ‘better for you’ products continue to be high too, particularly when eating away from home.

“Tapping into their positive perceptions of ‘naturalness’ and interest in food provenance can add value to a breakfast menu, as consumers seek out dishes that are made with natural ingredients and have a ‘back story’,” he adds. As can vegan-friendly dishes, particularly more substantial ones which can cross the breakfast/lunch divide, which he believes will mean “increased sales opportunities”.

Sustainability is also a key factor in drawing in younger consumers, notes Inizan at Bridor. “Gen-Z is particularly influential when it comes to conscious consumerism, and with social media use driving a visual appeal, demands for sustainable, ethical and vegan baked products are being fuelled by younger generations,” he adds.

The use of grains, seeds and rustic flours in sweet breakfast bakes can also boost appeal to consumers looking for a ‘better for you’ breakfast, adds Jacqui Passmore, marketing manager UK and Ireland at Dawn Foods.

Ancient grain waffles with blueberries, banana and yoghurt on top

Source: Dawn Foods

Ancient grain waffles

Menu innovation is a must

While the same bowl of cereal or jam on toast might cut it inside the home, suppliers believe it’s important to offer out of home diners something a bit more special.

“Breakfast away from home is now a significant meal occasion ranking alongside lunch and dinner, giving operators the opportunity to experiment with globally inspired dishes as well as exciting baked goods that push the boundaries in both format and flavour,” explains Passmore.

Meikle at Aryzta points to the firm’s consumer research which identified the ‘taste-first enthusiasts’ and ‘compromiser’ groups of consumers who are likely to have their interest piqued by new products. “Sometimes it’s all about the taste and experience and how ‘Insta’ the serve is that will bring consumers into your store or outlet,” he says.

“Can you whet consumers’ appetites with your imagery and messaging? Merchandising the breakfast occasion can help conversion rate and increase basket size.”