Retail breakfast entrees: The real (breakfast) world
What do you get when you put several strong-willed personalities together under one roof? A case where anything could happen at any time - and it usually does.
That’s the theme of MTV’s “The Real World” and although the basic premise is simple - it’s undeniably successful. Just consider that “The Real World” is entering its 20th season. Another success story involves the frozen breakfast entrée category, which is home to some of the supermarket’s most exciting brands. Although frozen waffle category results were flat, Chicago’s Information Resources Inc.reported that sales of retail frozen breakfast entrees (including skillet meals, single-serve entrees, pancakes, complete breakfasts and more), rose 9.6 percent to $331.1 million with an accompanying 7.7 percent rise in unit takeaway, during a 52-week period ended January 27, 2008. Similarly, sales of “other” breakfast entrees (including Pillsbury Toaster Strudel and other toaster specialties) rose 11.6 percent to $130.9 million with a 13.4 percent unit volume rise.
Fueling that growth are several strong-willed food processors, including powerhouses such as Bob Evans and Jimmy Dean.
The latter, of course, is one of fastest growing businesses at Sara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill. This summer finds the food giant debuting four new complete breakfasts in three-compartment trays. Main entrée options are croissant sandwiches (ham, sausage) or scrambled eggs (sausage, bacon). Sides for all four varieties include diced apples and seasoned hash browns.
Also new during the past several months are a Jimmy Dean Ham Breakfast Bowl, Smoked Sausage Skillets and Pancake & Sausage Minis. The latter offering also is entirely new for Sara Lee, a mini sausage wrapped in sweet pancake batter.
“Providing breakfast lovers convenient, great-tasting foods has always been a priority with Jimmy Dean,” said Philippe Schaillee, vice president of breakfast and snacking for Sara Lee North America Retail. “We take the extra step by continuously ensuring our customers enjoy the fullest variety of flavors the morning has to offer.”
For its part, Bob Evans Farms, Columbus, Ohio, also introduced a microwaveable “Pigs in a Blanket” offering last fall. The product includes a dough-enrobed smoked sausage with cheese. Meanwhile, the brand also developed Bob Evans Oatmeal Bowls. Four new varieties are Cranberry Pecan, Hearty Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon and Cinnamon Raisin.
“With more than 1.7 million orders of oatmeal served annually in Bob Evans Restaurants, there has been consumer demand to add this product to our home-style convenience selections in the grocery stores,” said Mike Townsley, executive vice president of food products. “The premium taste of Bob Evans Oatmeal is superior to instant oatmeal, so this is a unique product that delivers both taste and convenience.”
Bob Evans touts health as well. Officials say the new oatmeal bowls are an excellent source of fiber (5 grams of dietary fiber per serving), with zero grams of trans fat and no cholesterol.
Also targeting hearty and healthy attributes is Amy’s Kitchen, Santa Rosa, Calif. Just on the heels of Bob Evans, Amy’s introduced four organic frozen Hot Cereal bowls, including Oatmeal, Cream of Rice, Steel Cut Oats and Multi-Grain.
Perhaps lending the most “real world” convenience are hand-held entrees, which are popular at almost all retail and foodservice meal occasions. Unfortunately, that success hasn’t transferred to the frozen breakfast category where IRI shows 52-week dollar sales were down 1.8 percent to $329.9 million with an accompanying 6.6 percent drop in unit volume.
Choosing to see that news as opportunity, Sara Lee targeted both convenience and health in the form of three Jimmy Dean D-Lights breakfast sandwiches, each with one-third fewer calories and less than half the fat of regular offerings. Elsewhere, Bob Evans unveiled a Maple Biscuit Sausage Sandwich.
Yet another big name, Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., weighed in this April with new Kraft Bagel-fuls, a five-item line of frozen “all-in-one” bagels (in a log shape rather than circle) stuffed with plain or flavored cream cheese.
In a recent interview with R&FF, Kraft’s Basil Maglaris, senior manager of corporate affairs, noted, “As part of Kraft’s three-year turnaround plan, we are reframing our product categories to better meet consumer needs. One way we’re reframing our offerings is to offer quick meal solutions - like Bagel-fuls - to increasingly busy customers.”
Last but not least, the Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., continues to refresh its Eggo brand line-up. Among the business’ latest new offerings are Eggo French Toast Waffles and frozen Mini Muffin Tops. The company also has begun advertising another entirely new product: Eggo BakeShop Swirls, flavored doughs with filling and icing baked inside. Varieties will include Strawberry, Cinnamon, Blueberry and Chocolate Chip.