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Majority of Canadian still start their day with breakfast

Dalhousie University, Agri-Foods Analytics Lab finds older Canadians still see breakfast as important while gen Z more likely to skip the morning meal.
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Morning Breakfast Meal with Coffee
Photo: Shutterstock

The Agri-Food Analytics Lab with Dalhousie University in partnership with Caddle have released a new study looking at what still remains the most important meal of the day for Canadians: breakfast.

Some 9,165 Canadians in March 2024 were asked about their breakfast habits, including whether they eat breakfast, why they may skip it, their preferred choices, and where they eat their first meal of the day.

"Our survey sheds light on the evolving breakfast habits of Canadians. It's fascinating to see how generational differences and regional variations play a role in how people start their day,” says Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “This data is crucial for understanding consumer behavior and can significantly impact the food industry and policy development."

According to the new study, most Canadians still sit down in the morning for a breakfast. A total of 57.2% of Canadians eat breakfast every day, the study finds, while some 12.8% eat breakfast 5 or 6 times a week, 12.9% eat breakfast 1 to 3 times a week. 

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Only 5.8% never eat breakfast. 

There were also some interesting generational trends when it came to breakfast. Gen Z seems not be particularly interested in having breakfast, with the study finding it has the highest rate of breakfast skippers at 9.0% and the lowest rate of daily breakfast consumption at 48.8%. The Greatest Generation, however, has the highest rate of daily breakfast consumption at 74.8%, while Boomers have the lowest rate of breakfast skippers at 4.1%.

The question to be asked is why do some make it part of their daily ritual to sit down in the morning for a breakfast, while others decide breakfast can be skipped entirely? 

The study finds that not being hungry is one reason. Some 37.1% of Canadians say they don't eat breakfast because they are not hungry in the morning. While 20.3% say they don't have enough time, 19% prefer to eat a meal later in the day. And 8% said they skip the morning meal because they have either decided to fast or are trying to lose some weight.

If one is expecting that gender might play a role when it comes to breakfast, the study did not find that to be the case, with 4.7% of women never eat breakfast, 6.3% of men skip breakfast every day. A total of 58.7% of women eat breakfast every day, compared to 56.7% of men.

When Canadians sit down for breakfast, what do they eat? It seems that we Canadians have a strong preference for carbs, with toast and bagels toping at 40.6%, followed by eggs with a side of bacon or ham or sausage at 37.5%.

Cereal, that classic standby, and granola came in third at 29.7%. Fruits and oatmeal come fourth at 23.4%, followed by yogurt and smoothie at 18.3%, followed by pancakes and waffles at 11.8%, pastries and muffins at 11.3%, protein shakes or bars at 3 6.2%, and leftovers from dinner at 6.0%. 

The study finds that all generations prefer toast and bagels except for the Greatest Generation, which prefers cereals and granola. 

And coffee is still the preferred drink to accompany breakfast with 52.6% saying they want their mug of coffee when they sit down with breakfast, with water at 13.2%, followed by tea at 11.4%, juice at 9.2%, and milk at 8.7%.

Janet Music, research coordinator at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, adds: "The survey results provide a comprehensive overview of Canada's breakfast landscape, highlighting the importance of convenience and personal preferences in meal choices. Understanding these trends is essential for tailoring products and services to meet the needs of different demographics and lifestyles."

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