Breakfast around the world

We asked our members and partners what they had for breakfast. In response, we received pictures from all over the world.

Some people sent us photos of their typical daily breakfast, some from their Sunday brunch, and some from the breakfast they ate when traveling. Take a look.


The good, the bad, and the tasty Let’s add some science to the pictures.

What makes a good breakfast?

According to a recent article by Charles Spence (1), consuming around 15-25 percent of the daily energy intake at breakfast is a good thing. As you see in our pictures, coffee is the favorite drink in the morning. People say their morning coffee “gives me a kick”, but they are probably missing the point. There is no scientific evidence that coffee improves alertness. Yet coffee seems to have a mild anti-depressant effect. “A couple of cups of coffee a day halved the suicide rate,” writes Charles Spence, referring to a study by Michel Lucas from the Harvard School of public health (2).

With one exception, there are no eggs in our breakfast pictures (Can you spot the exception?). That might be a bad thing*, since a study from Finland suggests that eggs can enhance cognitive performance (3). Did you notice that most pictures include something sweet, for example, the `tortino di riso e crema´ (little cake with rice and cream inside) from Spain? This might be due to the fact that we are more sensitive to sweetness in the morning. This is not the case for salt, sour, bitter, or umami.

Breakfast is going grrrrrr

Lots of our photos show muesli or cereal. This is opposed to what the market trend predicts. The sales of breakfast cereals have declined by almost 30 percent in the past 15 years. The future of breakfast cereals seems bleak, and one of the possible explanations for this downward spiral could be a reason for cultural pessimism. Kim Severson writes in a 2016 publication (4), “Almost 40% of the millennials surveyed by Mintel for its 2015 report said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it.” What then is the future of breakfast? According to Baum+Whiteman´s “13 hottest food & beverage trends in restaurant & hotel dining for 2017”, the “very texture of breakfast is being transformed. It used to be that breakfast was smooth and soothing. Today´s textures and tastes are turning aggressive … crunchy fried chicken, siracha, crispy chorizo.” (5)

Advice to the producers

What is your personal trend at the breakfast table – soft scrambled eggs or chewy whole grain crackers? Whatever it is, product developers will have an eye on it. Swetlana Gutjar from ESN partner Friesland Campina tested breakfast drinks and concludes in her thesis, “To align with the brand image, a product developer may want to adapt the sensory characteristics of a liquid dairy-based breakfast drink to a product that is perceived as more energetic and active. One option would be to change it into a semi-liquid (yoghurt-like) product and/or add some coarse particles, as these have stronger associations with such emotions as energetic and active.” (6)

If you want to be an `early adopter´ of new trends, try out some extra crunchy breakfast next time you feel adventurous. Let us know if it made you feel more energetic and active. Crunch ….!

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* Of course,”Good or bad” is supposed to be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. Results from studies on nutrition and health are often epidemiological studies, and therefore indicate associations, but no causal relationships. (There are studies out that claim that eating ice-cream or chocolate cake for breakfast gives you a healthy start for the day.)


1 Charles Spence. Breakfast: The most important meal of the day? Int J of Gastronomy and Food Science 2017, 8: 1–6

2 Lucas M et al. Coffee, caffeine, and risk of completed suicide: results from three prospective cohorts of American adults. World J Biol Psychiatry 2014, 15: 377–386

3 Ylilauri M et al. Association of dietary cholesterol and egg intakes with the risk of incident dementia or Alzheimer disease: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2017, 116.146753v1

4 Severson K. Cereal, a taste of nostalgia, looks for its next chapter. New York Times (Feb 22nd, 2016)

5 Baum+Whiteman´s “13 hottest food & beverage trends in restaurant & hotel dining for 2017”:

6 Swetlana Gutjar: Affective and cognitive drivers of food choice. Thesis submitted at Wageningen University, 2015