Better-for-you products will continue to gain momentum as we emerge from the pandemic era. “Although better-for-you frozen breakfast products did not experience the same level of benefit from the ‘COVID bump’ last year, the trend of consumers looking for better and healthier options made its way back into the spotlight as the year carried on,” says Brandon Porras, vice president of marketing, Kodiak Cakes, Park City, UT.
“We know mornings are tough,” says Joe Beauprez, marketing director, frozen breakfast, Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, MI. “In fact, according to social media conversations, parents are 40 percent less positive about breakfast when it involves their kids. And over the past year, mornings got even tougher for many parents.”
For the 52 weeks ending April 18, 2021, IRI, Chicago reports the frozen breakfast food category grew 13.6 percent to $4.3 billion in dollar sales. This represents a significant level of growth compared to the previous year.
The frozen waffles segment within the category saw comparable growth to last year, though, up 6.0 percent to $1.1 billion. Kellogg Co., powered by its iconic Eggo brand, is the runaway segment leader, with over 70 percent market share. Its main Eggo line grew 9.9 percent to $587.5 million, while the Eggo Thick & Fluffy line grew 12.8 percent to $120.4 million.
While private label has a solid foothold in the segment, with $140.4 million in sales, its collective sales declined by 9.2 percent for the reporting period. This signals current brand strength for frozen waffles.
The biggest story in frozen waffles is the continued and dramatic growth of Kodiak Cakes, which collectively grew 50.1 percent for the year to $60.9 million in sales. The company’s Power Waffles line grew 57.6 percent to $48.4 million, while its Energy Waffles line grew 26.7 percent to $12.5 million.
Other frozen waffles developments of note:
- Birch Benders is seeing strong growth for its frozen waffles, which is now a $10.9 million business for the company
- Kashi, a Kellogg Co. business, has grown its Kashi Go line of frozen waffles to a $6.2 million brand
- Aryzta’s Oakrun Farm Bakery Belgian waffles also saw nice growth, now accounting for $5.0 million in sales
Frozen pancakes are part of the frozen breakfast entrées segment, which grew 18.1 percent to $936.0 million. De Wafelbakkers leads frozen pancake sales, but had a relatively flat year, down 1.0 percent to $89.5 million in dollar sales, per IRI. Baker Mills continues to build its presence in frozen pancakes, with growth of 13.2 percent to $10.8 million in sales for its Kodiak Cakes Power Flapjacks line.
Nutritionally improved breakfast items are on the rise. “In the last 52 weeks ending April 18, 2021, better-for-you brands have disproportionately increased share (up 1.8 category share points),” says Porras. “But even more telling is the fact that disproportionate share growth has more than doubled for better-for-you brands in the last 12 weeks ending April 18, 2021 (up 3.9 category share points).”
Shoppers often seek a balance of nutrition and eating enjoyment for convenient breakfast options. “We are seeing a trend toward permissible indulgence in this category,” says Porras. “People want balance between health and taste when it comes to the frozen breakfast space. Kodiak Cakes’ Thick and Fluffy Power Waffles line achieve this balance, in my opinion. With 10 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, and only 6 grams added sugar, the Buttermilk & Vanilla Thick and Fluffy Power Waffles flavor has become Kodiak’s No. 3 item in the last four weeks ending April 18, 2021.”
Parents face a continual challenge of providing convenient, nutritious, and delicious day-starters for their family—particularly over the past year or so. “From an Eggo perspective, that insight pushed us to look for ways to help parents let go of the madness, celebrate small wins, and enjoy their family mornings more,” says Beauprez.
Kellogg Co. launched its “L’Eggo with Eggo” campaign to help parents let go of the morning mayhem and embrace small wins with a 1 million waffles giveaway on social media, personalized videos from a hype squad of celebrity parents showing solidarity, and tons of creative content to inspire parents with new ways to “L’Eggo” in the morning, says Beauprez.
But breakfast foods don’t have to remain the exclusive domain of the morning daypart. “With everyone spending more time at home, we’re seeing consumers think about frozen breakfast foods outside that breakfast timeline,” says Beauprez. “One of those occasions is snacking. We introduced Stuffed Pancake Bites—fluffy on the outside, warm creamy chocolate flavor or real strawberries on the inside—to bring that perfect bite to the snack time.”
And toaster waffles and pancakes aren’t just for kids. “We are seeing parents carve out ‘me time’ in the evenings after long days,” says Beauprez. “Our Eggo Thick & Fluffy line caters to this occasion with more sophisticated flavors, so they’re the perfect late-night indulgent treat for parents.” One new flavor in the line is Salted Caramel.
“The past year saw significant innovation for Eggo, both on the product and brand front, and that momentum is continuing into this year, as well,” says Beauprez. The new Stuffed Pancake Bites, which come in Chocolate and Strawberry varieties, are just starting to appear on shelves. “We’re already receiving great reactions and feedback in social from those who have tried them.”
Kellogg Co. has also just released a brand-new product that combines Eggo waffles with emojis, called Eggoji, says Beauprez.
“We also recently introduced a new twist on our Eggo Minis that has the flavor of maple syrup within the waffles themselves, making them more portable and mess-free for on-the-go breakfast and snacking,” says Beauprez. “We also introduced Minnie to our popular Mickey & Minnie waffles, released Thick & Fluffy Whole Grain waffles, and satisfied our No. 1 customer request: introducing new packaging with resealable liners to ensure our products stay fresher longer.” Any steps to help consumers prevent food waste will likely help brands gain traction.
Maintaining a strategically diverse product assortment in the freezer case is important to reaching key shopper demographics, and areas like plant-based nutrition, keto, and gluten-free continue to factor into the mix. “Kodiak Cakes has homed in on these trends with our recent launches of Thick and Fluffy Belgian Style (Buttermilk & Vanilla, Blueberry, and Chocolate Chip flavors), Plant-Based (Classic), and Gluten-Free (Frontier Oat) Toaster Waffles,” says Porras. “In Q4 of 2021, we will also introduce Buttermilk Carb-Conscious Toaster Waffles. We have a few other items up our flannels for 2022,” he says, “but cannot talk about those quite yet.”