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Dunkin’s latest breakfast creation turns up heat on McDonald’s

ENCINO, CA – FEBRUARY 12: A general view of the atmosphere during the Valentine’s Day With Dunkin’ Donuts Heart-Shaped Donuts held at Dunkin Donuts on February 12, 2016 in Encino, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Dunkin’ Donuts)

The battle over breakfast has turned into an all-out war at fast-food chains. Dunkin’ is the latest company to unveil a new creation to lure in customers in the wee hours.

Dunkin’ said Monday that it has added two new breakfast bowls to its menu: The Egg White Bowl, which is made with egg whites, spinach, roasted potatoes, cheddar cheese and onions; and the Sausage Scramble Bowl, made with scrambled eggs, sausage, cheddar cheese, peppers and onions.

The morning remains the only growth market for the fast-food industry, according to NPD. Breakfast sales at fast-food restaurants rose 1% last year, but overall sales were flat. More people prepare breakfast at home than any other meal, so quick-serve restaurants believe there is room for growth.

That’s why fast-food restaurants are redoing their menus to capture market share from their competitors.

McDonald’s, which has found its all-day breakfast to be popular, added new sandwiches last year and donut sticks in February.

Taco Bell started serving breakfast in 2014 and now sells oddball creations like the naked egg taco, which has a fried egg for a shell.

Burger King is testing out a coffee pass for $5 per month.

And Panera earlier this month started serving breakfast wraps with maple bacon egg and cheese; chicken, egg and avocado; and vegetarian egg white, spinach and feta. It also started serving cold brew coffee — and better coffee in general.

The companies say breakfast customers want healthy food to be served fast that can be eaten quickly. Dunkin’s Egg White Bowl fits both bills. It has less cholesterol than regular eggs and it’s served in a cup, so it can be consumed on the go.

The Dunkin’ breakfast bowls will be available beginning Monday for a limited time.

Dunkin’ is in a particularly tough spot with rising breakfast competition, because the morning hours are the company’s bread and butter, so to speak. Dunkin’s sales grew 4% last year — not bad for an industry with mostly stagnant sales. So far this year, Dunkin’ stock is up more than 17%.

But to maintain that momentum, the company has been trying all kinds of breakfast concoctions, from “better-for-you Power Breakfast Sandwiches” to “Go2” value menus featuring breakfast sandwiches. The company said the Go2 program was so successful that it extended the temporary offer to a regular menu addition.

The company said on its last earnings call that customers should expect more creations and experiments in 2019. Dunkin’ will next report earnings Thursday.

The breakfast wars are on.

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