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Perspectives

Cooking up a healthier future for breakfast

Shaun Jones, Futures Business Director

Breakfast presents an increasingly changing and challenging business proposition. It is a mature market but product development and share is no longer solely governed by the ready-to-eat cereal sector. New innovation is continuing to match the changing focus of our culture and the needs and lifestyles of its consumers. From cereal bars and snack packs to breakfast biscuits and dedicated cereal cafes, we are establishing a more diverse, dynamic and fiercely competitive breakfast offer. The future of breakfast – especially under the spotlight of health – is a prescient issue and one that was the focus of a recent EU event attended by both Government representatives and brand leaders. I was invited to speak, alongside Kellogg’s, about just how we create a new vision for the breakfast sector of the future, innovating to address the changing needs of our society and give breakfast a healthy future.

Still cited as the most important meal of the day, new studies continue to promote the benefits of a healthy breakfast. But, we have hit something of a paradox. Health has never had such a premium and is at the forefront of our consciousness and our choices. But, in many cases, there is still an overriding perception that tasty food is not healthy and healthy food is not tasty. And this is further compounded by the ongoing and contentious ‘added sugar’ debate. While newbie brands extol their handmade and health benefits, they do not necessarily have the heritage and food credentials of the big breakfast brands. Addressing this tension and finding new ways to get the balance of health and desirability just right is undoubtedly the biggest challenge now facing this sector.

But we need to look at the issue of health in the wider and changing context of the society that we now live in. There are many factors cited as barriers to healthy and wholesome eating – time, access, money and knowledge, amongst others. But, on the flip side, people are also better educated, eager to explore different tastes, embracing different daily routines and looking for a new and more personal approach relationship with brands, products and services.

The opportunity is to open up a new and positive relationship between taste and health, full of benefit and pleasure, to drive positive and purposeful change for the breakfast market and the brands within it. And, above all, help people live a healthier and happier life in a future that is more appetizing, interesting and individual.

The breakfast brands of tomorrow need to look for new, fresh and arresting ways to successfully innovate and deliver these new requirements. We need to inject a sense of vibrancy – celebrating the positive link between health and wellbeing to communicate taste, variety and a return to promoting pleasure in eating. And taste itself is driving a huge macro shift across all food and drink sectors. It’s about not sacrificing taste for benefit and looking at creating new taste sensations and textures. We also want brands to help us achieve a new sense of personal optimization – providing effective solutions that deliver power-packed essential nutrients to fulfill our daily health and energy requirements. And wrapping this all together is a shift towards healthy convenience.

The rise in popularity of single-serve hot cereals, particularly porridge and oatmeal, shows the demand for healthy convenience with new brands, such as Oat Works, already refining and reinvigorating the offer with the advent of oat smoothies. And we want these brands to not just do us good but to look good. We need functional and informative communication but we also need an emotional and inspirational offer. It’s about capturing and creating moments of pleasure that bring taste, vibrancy, efficiency, power, health and convenience together in a creative, relevant and engaging innovation.

By tapping into these new themes, and using insight to innovate for the future, the breakfast of tomorrow will be more than just ordinary and everyday. We will be able to deliver a new world of healthy and varied food choices and a healthy bottom line through extraordinary breakfast experiences.

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