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How the world wakes up: international breakfast inspiration

For the fifth year in a row, the number of operators offering breakfast has increased, making the space one of the most competitive dayparts in the industry today.

5 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice



For the fifth year in a row, the number of operators offering breakfast has increased, making the space one of the most competitive dayparts in the industry today. Restaurants and manufacturers have all made moves to get a piece of the business, whether it’s McDonald’s, whose stock has risen nearly 20% since adding all-day breakfast last October, according to Fortune; Taco Bell, which responded by reviving its dollar menu to offer items like grilled breakfast burritos; or Tyson, one of the world’s largest chicken and meat companies, that now offers frozen breakfast sandwiches. As the competition continues to heat up, many companies may be looking for inspiration to differentiate themselves from a sea of ubiquitous breakfast items like pancakes and egg sandwiches. Earlier this summer, Datassential explored the variety of breakfast dishes popular across the world in our issue ofInternational Concepts: Breakfast.” From congee in China to kaya toast in Singapore to manakish, the breakfast of choice in Lebanon, here are some traditional a.m. eats from around that world and how they could translate to US menus.

  • Have a morning craving for cheesy carbs? Pao de queijo, or baked cheese bread, is a ubiquitous snack food in Brazil, sold at snack stalls starting early in the morning. The treats are often eaten for breakfast along with a cup of coffee. At Brazil’s Casa De Pao De Queijo, or “The Cheese Bread House,” you’ll find the bread balls also filled with ingredients like guava paste or cottage cheese with olives. In our survey of more than 1,000 consumers, we found that 55% of people were interested in trying the chain’s signature pao de queijo and coffee combo. Imagine cheesy croissants modeled after these Brazilian buns.
  • As a melting pot of several cultures, breakfast in Singapore varies widely – it’s not uncommon to eat everything from prawns to noodles or rice stir-fries, especially from the country’s ubiquitous hawker stalls. The national Singaporean breakfast food, however, might be kaya toast, or bread topped with butter or margarine and kaya, a custardy jam made with sugar, egg, coconut, and pandan leaves (which has a flavor reminiscent of vanilla), often paired with coffee and a soft-boiled egg. Put a spin on the classic toast and jam breakfast combo by taking inspiration from kaya – create your own version of the sweet coconut jam or offer more unique jam flavors like a savory bacon jam. Savory jams are now the fastest growing sandwich condiment, even surpassing sriracha, according to Datassential’s MenuTrends database — try a savory jam on a breakfast sandwich.
  • In the UK, traditional breakfasts are super hearty, typically featuring platters piled high with back bacon, British sausage, fried eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, baked beans, and toast or fried bread. At nearly 80-location Little Chef, headquartered in London, you’ll find the full English breakfast, or fry up, along with other classic British fare like Chicken Tikka Masala and Cottage Pie. The beauty of many globally-inspired breakfasts is that they often feature ingredients that can be cross-utilized throughout your operation – those same baked beans on the fry up can also serve as a lunch or dinner side, while items like granola can add a crunchy topping to morning parfaits as well as sweeter dessert items.
  • At Breakfast to Breakfast in Lebanon, you’ll find a full spread of breakfast eats, namely manakish, a flatbread “pizza” often seasoned with the Mediterranean spice blend za’atar. As the breakfast space becomes more crowded, it can pay to put a global spin on your traditional breakfast staples. Consumers are already seeing flatbread breakfast sandwiches at chains like Subway, so why not take it a step further and create a flavorful flatbread topped with cheese and eggs and eaten like a pizza?

Aside from being a wildly competitive daypart, breakfast is unique in that there are really only a handful of common staple dishes, like pancakes, eggs, and waffles, often found at nearly every breakfast operation. Amp up your breakfast selection and try adding an LTO or limited product line featuring something a little out of the ordinary to perk up consumers’ morning routines – take a page from congee and porridges by offering savory oats or include a noodle soup to an all-day menu, letting adventurous consumers try something a little different in the morning while still keeping soup around for lunch and dinner where it’s a more traditional choice here in the states.

Renee Lee is a senior publications specialist at Datassential, a supplier of trends, analysis and concept testing for the food industry. For more information about Datassential’s line of TrendSpotting publications like International Concepts, contact senior publications manager Mike Kostyo at 312-219-6435 or [email protected].


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