Mac & Cheese breakfast contender

Building on the consumer insights and market intelligence that brands are seeing these past few months, Kraft has come up with something amazing. Mac and cheese is now emerging as a breakfast contender. And it’s surely a sign of tasty things to come!

Before we get going though, here are some statistics surrounding food and consumer behavior that you’ll find interesting:

  • A 2020 survey by Hunter, a leading food and beverage marketing firm, found that 54% more Americans are cooking at home than before COVID-19.
  • As of June 2020, U.S. grocery store prices have seen a 6% increase over the same time last year, according to the USDA.
  • 56% of parents surveyed say they’ve served their children mac & cheese for breakfast during the pandemic – more often than before.

And we’ll explore how Kraft’s move looks from a social listening and market intelligence perspective, with a focus on:

  • How food is fluctuating.
  • Financial strains and food insecurity.
  • The future of food.

That said, let’s dive into the changing attitudes surrounding what we eat.

Food is Fluctuating

Coming into 2020 there were a slew of predictions on the food and beverage trends that would be top of mind this year. Some appear to be on pause for the time being, while others have maintained their momentum. The coronavirus has been a wrecking ball in many industries, and the food industry has certainly seen its fair share.


For instance, plant-based meat alternatives and mocktails were soaring trends going into this year. And those were expected to continue, as food trends have increasingly leaned towards health-conscious options. While they are probably not going away, the coronavirus caused them to lose steam as consumer needs waxed and waned.

Now that we’re well beyond the early panic buying and have come to terms with socially distanced grocery shopping and meal delivery, consumers have settled into the long-haul. Consumers’ lifestyles have changed drastically, and they’re making a lot more of their meals at home. After all, ordering delivery every day just isn’t feasible for most.

At this stage in the game however, many have worn out their repertoire of recipes on their family. And brands on top of their market intelligence game are looking for ways to help them mix it up. With many families restructuring their work/life balance once again as the school year resumes, brands that are successful stand to get lots of consumer love.


Financial Strain & Food Insecurity

Now is a great time for brands to hone their social listening skills to uncover strategies that will provide that little something extra that consumers are looking for. With millions still unemployed and their short-term finances tied to the ongoing chess match on Capitol Hill, many consumers will be hesitant to loosen their purse strings. Therefore, brands that can find creative ways to make life a little easier are the ones racking up big wins right now.

And in a brilliant marketing move, that’s exactly what Kraft Heinz did recently when they transformed their iconic mac and cheese into a breakfast option.


If it sounds overly simple … it’s because it is. But the key to the simplicity is knowing your consumer through smart social listening. Parents are stressed between their millionth Zoom meeting, financial obligations and getting their kids started back to school – and Kraft was paying attention.

By initiating a survey of parents, they found 56% were more frequently giving mac and cheese to their kids for breakfast during lockdown – so they decided to normalize it. Instead of a massive marketing campaign, they put the word ‘breakfast’ on the box, rolled out a sweepstakes benefitting Feed the Children and tweeted about it.


For consumers short on time and money, quick-serve options like this are a hit. And seeing that Kraft Heinz (KHC) is up on the NASDAQ by 28% over the last six months, it pays for brands to do their market intelligence homework.

But what do things look like for food going forward?

The Future of Food 

With 54% of the U.S. population cooking more at home, value is going to be king for the near future. Especially since many are operating on reduced incomes while grocery prices stand 5.6% above what they did this time last year.

However, consumers are still health conscious and concerned over sustainability. They are a couple of the trends that have weathered the coronavirus storm. As you can see below, our network map regarding food trends shows a lot of positive traction surrounding sustainability, health and whole/plant-based food conversations.


It’s telling that the healthy food trend predictions cluster is nearly off the chart in positivity, while the processed foods cluster is deep in the red.

But be that as it may, brands will do well to remember the health conscious are known for having a cheat meal. As many enter a time of renewed uncertainty, people will continue to reach for their favorites that bring their family much needed comfort during stressful times.


At the end of the day, the coronavirus and various socioeconomic factors continue to keep the food industry on its toes. There’s definitely a juggling act to be had around health, sustainability, comfort and value. Brands that build their market intelligence strategy with next generation artificial intelligence (AI) will stay ahead of the pack as needs continue to change.

We help top brands monitor actionable consumer insight every day, and we can do the same for yours. Be sure to reach out for a personalized demo and we’ll show you how!

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