As the saying goes, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” However, new research from Mintel reveals that not all Canadians agree on the best breakfast location, as nearly two in three (64%) consumers aged 65 and over say that they eat breakfast at home every day compared to just two in five (41%) Canadians overall and just over one third of (36%) consumers aged 18-34.

While there’s no place like home to eat breakfast for Canada’s senior population, going out for breakfast is becoming a popular option for the majority of consumers. For instance, nearly three quarters of Canadians (73%) say that they eat breakfast at a coffee shop or quick-service restaurant at least once a month compared to less than half of those aged 65+ (45%).

Indeed, Mintel research indicates that younger consumers are seeking out on-the-go breakfast options as more than half (54%) of consumers aged 18-34 eat breakfast while commuting and three in five (60%) consumers under 45 years old report that they eat breakfast while at work or school.

“The spectre of real life certainly seeps into the breakfast category, as time-pressed consumers look to balance the commitments of everyday life. Canadians are spending more time on the go than ever before, reaffirming that portability is an opportunity for breakfast brands to better meet the needs of modern consumers,” says Joel Gregoire, senior food and drink analyst. “However, we see that over 65s have a significant impact on the country’s breakfast habits, as they make up the fastest-growing age demographic in Canada. This presents both challenges and opportunities for manufacturers and foodservice operators. There are few life changes aside from retirement that play a major role in altering one’s eating habits since the need for convenient meal solutions while ‘out’ dissipates markedly as commuting and working schedules change, which Canadian foodservice operators need to be cognizant of.”

Surpassed only by taste (69%), nutrition is the second most important factor that more than half of consumers (51%) consider when choosing what to eat or drink for breakfast. While the majority (59%) of Canadians agree that it’s important to start the day off with a healthy breakfast, Mintel research reveals that there is a divide among consumers regarding the importance of certain nutritional benefits. Consumers over age 45 show comparatively more interest in foods that are high in fiber (56%) and low in sugar (53%), while under 45s show greater interest in breakfast foods high in protein (52%), with added vitamins (27%), infused with omega 3s (25%) and all-natural food options (43%).

Canadian Millennials (aged 18-34), in particular, tend to look for breakfast foods that fuel physical activity or brain power for studying as they show a higher interest in specialized breakfast meals (27%) and in fortified breakfast foods with nutritional benefits (34%).

“We know that most Canadians view breakfast as the meal occasion that sets them up for success. As a result, consumers are looking to manufacturers and foodservice operators to make breakfast ‘better for you’ and to directly appeal to their nutrition and ingredient needs. While over 65s are looking for options that address health-related concerns tied to a need for high-fiber and low sugar, they will likely be more receptive to messaging around heart and digestive health. For younger consumers, function is more likely to resonate in messaging, as eating breakfast is not just about living a balanced lifestyle, but also giving them an ‘edge’ when starting their day. Younger consumers also show more interest in all-natural food options, which suggests that ‘holistic health’ plays a greater role in selections that they are making in the morning,” adds Gregoire.

For just over one third of Canadians (36%), breakfast plays an important role in weight management, particularly for women (43%). Additionally, women overall are more likely to factor in considerations around nutrition (59%) and energy (40%) when deciding what to eat for breakfast, while just 43% of men listed nutrition and one third (33%) listed energy. What’s more, Millennial women are more likely to choose foods that are filling (41%), compared to just 34% of Millennial men.

“Manufacturers should be cautious about investing in messaging that directly makes an association between eating breakfast and being thin. Rather, ‘starting the day off right’ as a supporting pillar in maintaining one’s overall health and well-being is more likely to credibly resonate with a broader consumer base, with weight maintenance being a byproduct of supporting a healthy lifestyle,” says Gregoire.