New and different flavors, portions and sizes styled for families on the go, and a mix of healthier ingredients including more protein are front and center for manufacturers of frozen breakfast products like pancakes, waffles and French toast.


State of the Industry: Bakery Report
Overview | Bread | Tortillas | Sweet Goods | Snack Cakes | Pizza | Desserts | Cookies | Buns & Rolls | Bars | Breakfast Products

Market data

Sales in the frozen breakfast food category saw a healthy rise for the 52 weeks ending March 25, up 4.58 percent in dollar sales to $3.4 billion, according to IRI, Chicago

Frozen waffles improved by 5.15 percent to $916.1 million. Among frozen waffle brands, the Kellogg Co. Eggo leads the pack by a wide margin, with its product lines combining for over 70 percent market share. Overall frozen waffle sales for Kellogg rose 8.16 percent to $674.5 million. The core Eggo line, which accounts for over 55 percent market share, was up 8.29 percent to $506.3 million in sales, while Eggo Thick & Fluffy was up 1.73 percent to $59.6 million. Eggo also did a special Marvel Spider Man LTO that pulled in $6.9 million for the IRI reporting period. Private label sits in the No. 2 slot for frozen waffles, with store brands increasing dollar sales by 5.61 percent to $167.8 million.

The frozen breakfast entrées segment—which includes frozen French toast and pancakes—was up 5.68 percent to $660.2 million, per IRI. Frozen pancake specialist De Wafelbakkers saw sales rise to $76.0 million, up 16.43 percent. Kellogg’s Eggo Minis frozen pancakes grew 14.17 percent to $28.9 million. The Eggo Bites line—mini on-the-go Chocolate Chip pancakes—grew 9.13 percent to $9.3 million. Good Food Made Simple, which has a clean-label focus, saw its frozen breakfast offerings continue growth, up 12.69 percent to $5.4 million. The frozen foods company includes which include Belgian-style pancake bites, in original and banana, as part of its morning lineup.


Looking back

Over the past two years, the Eggo brand has seen a visibility boost via the popular “Stranger Things” Netflix series thanks to a key character’s strong affinity for the products. Seeing an opportunity, Kellogg coordinated a retro-styled Eggo food truck to be outside the Hollywood premier of the second season in October 2017. The brand also released a nine-course menu so fans could pair an Eggo with each episode of the second season of the show.

Eggo dominates the waffle category, with private label the only other major player, says Lizzi Ackerman, co-founder and CMO, Birch Benders, Boulder, CO. “That’s because people haven’t had a chance to try new and exciting brands. The challenge with frozen waffles is that most of the co-manufacturers are at capacity. Frozen waffles in particular are a category that’s lagging in innovation because of that capacity issue.”

Waffle and other frozen breakfast brands are attempting to add protein to their products, whether whey or plant-based, Ackerman says. “We’re finding ways to sneak in protein without compromising taste. It definitely presents challenges in some ways to manufacture products that aren’t way too expensive for consumers.”

Birch Benders continues to see the paleo trend taking root in the breakfast category and recently rolled out its own paleo waffles. “I don’t even see it as a trend—it’s a lifestyle so many people have adapted,” Ackerman says. “People enjoy paleo products because they make you feel good. We’re going to continue to see the ‘paleofication’ of everything.”

Ackerman notes tiger nuts—which are actually edible tubers from sedge plants—can add sweetness and fiber. Gluten-free coconut, cassava and tapioca flours are increasingly popular, as is almond flour, she says.

Pancake and waffle makers continue to experiment with new flavors, although the old standbys still tend to top the list when it comes to sales, says Jamie Bobyk, marketing consultant, Hinds-Bock, Bothell, WA.

“We’ve seen a lot of infusion of flavors, whether banana or raspberry, or different ones like lemongrass, ginger and Mexican cocoa,” says Bobyk. “People are being a little more creative and bold with their flavors. But honestly, the classic flavors always seem to win out, like chocolate chip, blueberry and maple. Pancakes lend themselves to that, as well.”

Bobyk also has noticed growing interest in breakfast products that can be eaten on the run. “One good thing, particularly with waffles, is that it kinds of lends itself to that grab-and-go category,” he says. “Whether it’s for kids or adults, you pop them in the toaster and away you go. It gives you that carb hit in the morning.”

Kellogg suggests on the packaging of its Eggo Chocolate Chip Bites that the products are “Packed with flavor!” and “No syrup needed!” The little pancakes come in their own heat-and-eat grab-and-go pouch.

The mix of ingredients continues to shift in a healthier direction, Bobyk says. “There has been some interest in doing gluten-free batters. You see reduced sodium and reduced sweetener, or sweetened with agave.”

Equipment needs to be adjusted based on ingredients, Bobyk says. “To go with specialty batters, it’s a different animal than normal flour-based, flowable batter. You have to take into account the consistency with the equipment. It’s more viscous and hearty, so there’s more work involved to get a consistent portion each and every time.”


Looking forward

In the future, Bobyk believes the frozen breakfast category will continue to see new additions for those who want grab-and-go products, as well as general trend toward the reduction in the size of individual pancakes and waffles.

This means moving from standard-sized, larger pancakes and waffles to three smaller ones to a portion, says Bobyk. “Whether it’s going with kids, or a person in a car, it’s more manageable and not as daunting. The single-serve, grab-and-go category will continue to grow.”

On the equipment side, Bobyk believes production rates will continue to rise as robotics continue to advance. Hinds-Bock has equipment right now that can produce 18 evenly sized packages per deposit. “You’re getting into some pretty high speed there,” he says. “Those seem to be the most popular.”

Ackerman believes the frozen breakfast category will continue to shift in the direction of healthier options, such as waffles and pancakes with less sugar, or no added sugar. “More generally, we’re going to see more functional benefits. If a product has a functional benefit, if you can incorporate it in frozen, traditional breakfast foods—they can become anytime foods.”

State of the Industry: Bakery Report
Overview | Bread | Tortillas | Sweet Goods | Snack Cakes | Pizza | Desserts | Cookies | Buns & Rolls | Bars | Breakfast Products