Just a few decades ago, breakfast used to look something like this.
Today, the first meal of the day is looking a little more like this:
What was once thought of as the most important meal of the day is now being consider the most neglected meal of the day, according to one study conducted by OnePoll and reported in Refrigerated and Frozen Foods. In fact, the study reveals that the average American only eats breakfast three times a week, if at all.
Instead, more people prefer to snack their way through the day rather than sit down for scheduled meals. OnePoll reports that for those who skip breakfast, the top reason was because they weren’t hungry in the morning (52%), not having enough time (40%) or not believing it to be important (27%).
So, if American’s are consuming less breakfast, does this mean they are also consuming fewer dairy products?
According to Phil Plourd of Blimling and Associations, Inc., the answer is yes.
“Milk’s best friend got in trouble ,as we eat much less cereal today,” Plourd says. “If you were to plot a graph of cereal sales and milk sales, it's the same picture. Cereal sales are down 20% since 2009 by volume, milk sales are down 18%. It’s not much more complicated than that in terms of a big bulk of the loss of sales.”
Another breakfast food item that’s taking a hit? Yogurt.
Despite shelves full of new varieties, U.S. yogurt sales are in a multiyear slump. According to Caleb Bryant, associate director of Food and Drink Reports for Mintel, U.S. sales of yogurt and yogurt drinks peaked in 2015 but have fallen 3.6% in the last year and are projected to fall another 10% by 2024.
“Consumers are just not eating as much yogurt as they once did,” Bryant says.
So, what are today’s consumers looking for? According to Plourd, it’s convenience.
“I've been studying consumers in one way or another for a number of years,” he says. “One of my rules is to never bet against the laziness of the American consumer. If it's convenient, it's got a chance. If it's asking the consumer to do a lot of work, it's really hard to get traction.”
Studies agree. OnePoll reports that the number one thing consumers look for when making breakfast is that it is quick and easy to make followed by healthiness, nutrient value, taste and freshness.
Consumers are failing to realize is that dairy products easily fall into all of these categories. Is this combatable? Plourd believes it is.
“Today’s consumers are buying a bulk of their food products from gas stations and convivence stores,” Plourd says. “Unfortunately, we’re not seeing a lot of dairy products in those stores. That’s one area the dairy industry could really capitalize in.”
Although today’s consumers are eating less breakfast than in years past, dairy products have rightfully earned a seat at the table. However, if breakfast consumption continues to slip, dairy products just might lose their reserved spot.