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Irish Consumers Eat Carbohydrate-Rich Breakfasts

By Maev Martin
Irish Consumers Eat Carbohydrate-Rich Breakfasts

While most Irish consumers view breakfast as the most important meal in their day, they also, for the most part, eat their breakfast at home and consume carbohydrate-rich meals. That is according to the findings of research conducted by Bounce Insights on behalf of Checkout on 20 January 2023. Maev Martin reports

Breakfast literally means ‘to break the fast.’ It is the first meal of the day after a stretch of not eating overnight.

Breakfast earned its title as the most important meal of the day back in the 1960s after American nutritionist Adelle Davis suggested that to keep fit and avoid obesity, one should “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”

Over the past three years, the pandemic and hybrid working gave many consumers more time in the morning during lockdown periods and work-at-home directives.

This created opportunities for ‘slow’ breakfast items, and the popularity of cooked breakfasts increased.


However, as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, and consumers returned to workplaces/places of study, the on-the-go breakfast food market has returned, and it is expected to drive growth in products such as breakfast biscuits and cereal/snack bars.

Are People Who Eat Breakfast Healthier?

Some studies have shown that those who frequently eat breakfast often pay more attention to their overall nutrient intake, regularly participate in physical activity, and adequately manage stress.

Conversely, those who skip breakfast tend to have unhealthier lifestyle habits such as frequent smoking and drinking.

They also tend to have diets higher in fat, cholesterol, and calories than habitual breakfast eaters.


These studies suggest that lifestyle habits may contribute to the overall health status of breakfast eaters, not eating breakfast.

Other, more recent studies, suggest that breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day – but it is still important.

It serves as an opportunity to help you fuel your day and provide key nutrients that your body needs.

Some healthy breakfast foods include eggs, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, berries, whole-grain toast, chia seeds, cottage cheese, avocado, and nuts.

Irish Breakfast Consumers


The Bounce Insights survey targeted a nationally representative sample of 500 respondents across Ireland and asked them various questions about their breakfast consumption patterns and behaviours.

You can check out the full breakdown of the results from this survey here.

The following were among the key survey findings:

  • 78.77% of Irish consumers agree that breakfast is the most important meal in their day
  • 69.25% of Irish consumers eat carbohydrate-rich meals for breakfast, such as cereal or toast
  • Only 24.21% eat protein-rich meals for breakfast, such as eggs or fried meats;
  • 71.62% of Irish consumers eat their breakfast at home (kitchen table, in bed etc)
  • 26.19% eat their breakfast outside their homes (on the go, at work etc).

When asked about the biggest influence on their breakfast choices, the top three influences were the food available to them (35.12%), time constraints (28.57%) and their level of hunger (21.63%).

Interestingly, despite the survey revealing that over 69% of Irish consumers eat carbohydrate-rich meals for breakfast, when asked about the importance of consuming a high-protein breakfast, 76.79% of respondents rated it as important (very/somewhat important).


Most Important Meal Of The Day?

Survey respondents were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement – ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.’

45.04% of respondents strongly agreed; 33.73% somewhat agreed; 12.10% neither agreed nor disagreed; and 7.94% of respondents somewhat disagreed.

A paltry 1.19% of respondents strongly disagreed.

Therefore, 78.77% of Irish consumers agreed that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Only 9.13% of consumers disagreed that it is the most important meal of the day.

12.10% of consumers neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement.

Comparing genders, female respondents were more likely to strongly agree that 'Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.'

What We Eat

When those surveyed were asked, ‘In general, what do you eat for breakfast?’49.60% of respondents said they eat cereal or porridge; 16.67% eat toast; 16.67% eat eggs; 2.98% eat pastries; 7.54% of respondents eat a fried breakfast (i.e. bacon, sausages etc.); and 6.55% eat something other than the aforementioned options.

These findings tell us that 69.25% of respondents eat carbohydrate-rich meals for breakfast, whereas only 24.21% of respondents eat protein-rich meals.

Male respondents were a lot more likely to eat a fried breakfast, such as bacon/sausages, than their female counterparts.

Respondents were also asked to indicate how important it was to them to consume a breakfast that was high in protein.

36.31% rated consuming a high protein breakfast as very important; 40.48% of respondents rated it as somewhat important; 16.07% of respondents rated it neither important nor unimportant; 5.95% of respondents rated it somewhat unimportant; and 1.19% of respondents rated it very unimportant.

In other words, 76.79% of respondents rated the importance of consuming a breakfast high in protein as important, whereas 7.14% of respondents rated it as unimportant.

Male and female respondents were just as likely to attribute the same levels of importance to the consumption of a high protein breakfast, demonstrating very little difference in the attitudes of both genders.

Where We Eat

When they were asked ‘In general, where do you eat breakfast?’ 11.51% of those surveyed said they eat breakfast ‘on-the-go’; 69.44% eat at the kitchen table; 2.18% of respondents eat breakfast in bed; 14.68% eat breakfast at work; while 2.18% eat breakfast somewhere else.

26.19% of respondents eat their breakfast outside their homes, whereas 71.62% of respondents eat their breakfast at home.

Of those people who choose to eat their breakfast on-the-go, 36.21% of them are aged 35 to 44. Of those who choose to eat their breakfast in bed, 36.36% of them are aged 55 to 64.

The Biggest Influences

When asked ‘What is the biggest influence on what you eat and drink for breakfast?’ 35.12% of respondents claimed that the food they have available to them is the biggest influence on their breakfast choice; 28.57% selected time as their biggest influence, while 21.63% of respondents selected hunger as their biggest influence.

11.11% of respondents claimed that the activities they have on that day is the biggest influence on their choice of breakfast, with 3.57% of respondents stating that there was another reason not on the selection list that was the biggest influence on what they eat and drink for breakfast.

The research reveals that the three biggest influences on respondents’ breakfast choices were the food available to them, time constraints, and their level of hunger respectively.

These results indicate an impulsive consumption pattern from consumers during this period of the day.

There weren’t wide differences between males and females, or between the various ages, in choosing breakfast influences.

There was a good spread across all demographics for these options.

What the research reveals

In conclusion, the research by Bounce Insights on behalf of Checkout reveals that the majority of Irish consumers rank breakfast as the most important meal of the day.

However, despite this, the research also reveals that little planning goes into breakfast consumption, as most consumers make their decisions impulsively.

This is further evidenced by the clear cognitive dissonance between consumers’ valuing of high-protein meals for breakfast, and their actual choices, which largely come in the form of carbohydrate-rich meals.

The majority of Irish consumers also consume their breakfast at home, with only one quarter of consumers eating breakfast outside their homes

Interested in receiving insights like these yourself? Try out Bounce Insights today!

Convenience Still Highly Valued

Reflecting some of the findings in the Bounce Insights research, Mintel’s UK Breakfast Eating Habits Market Report 2022 reveals that convenience is still highly valued among breakfast eaters.

Easy to prepare and quick to prepare breakfasts remain the most important qualities for breakfast eaters.

In addition, the UK report finds that health is also high on consumers’ radars.

It states that this is ‘something that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and has now become evident in some consumers’ healthier breakfast eating habits and preferences.’

The report reveals that 45% of breakfast eaters say they consider how many calories are in their breakfast as part of their daily intake.

93% of UK adults eat breakfast at home.

55% of eaters say that being easy to prepare is the most important quality when choosing food.

67% of adults are worried about rising food and drink prices impacting their financial situation.

Inflation Will Impact Consumer Choice

Mintel’s breakfast eating habits market research concludes that inflation will impact consumers’ choice of breakfast foods by curbing demand, particularly in the more expensive out-of-home market.

It will also dampen consumers’ ability to buy more premium breakfast items during their weekly shop.

The future introduction of restrictions on advertising, store location and promotions for high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) food or drink will reduce the sales of products affected, such as cereals, cereal bars or morning goods.

Yet opportunities for innovation can arise if brands communicate the health credentials of their products.

Similarly, when it comes to inflation, brands can respond with affordability and versatility to continue to appeal to consumers

© 2023 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Maev Martin. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.


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