Burgeoning Burgers

Technomic reports detail consumption trends

CHICAGO -- New research from foodservice consultancy Technomic has found that nearly everyone enjoys burgers from time to time. In a recent survey of 1,200 U.S. consumers, a large majority (85%) said they eat burgers once a month or more; only 6% say they never eat burgers.

These and numerous other findings are detailed in two new reports—The Burger Consumer Trend Report and the Top 25 Limited-Service Burger Chains Smart Report—that examine key consumer trends in burger consumption and take a closer look at the Top-25 chain operators in the burger segment.

While limited-service [image-nocss] chains dominate the burger category, the research confirmed that consumers tend to go to these venues when value, price, portability and speed of service are most important. When purchasing full-service burgers, however, variety and freshness are of greater concern.

Among other findings in the two burger reports:

Significant differences were found in burger preferences and consumption behavior based on gender, age, region, ethnicity and income. For example, Northeastern consumers are the lightest burger users, and Asian consumers are more likely to find themed burgers appealing than other ethnic groups. Heavy burger users, those who eat burgers once a week or more, make up the largest burger user category (44%); this group skews toward young consumers and those in the South and Midwest. While "traditional" burgers still hold solid appeal, there is strong preference toward customization and "build your own burger" options. Additionally, variation in burger size is appealing to consumers, especially miniature burgers, typically sold as appetizers. The dynamic burger category continues to be dominated by limited-service restaurants (LSRs), which represent 33% of U.S. LSR sales. Within the nearly-$59 billion burger category, the Top 25 limited-service burger chains held roughly 97% of the market—and the Top 3 (McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's) accounted for nearly 75% of LSR burger chain sales. Sales growth among the Top 25 LSR burger chains presented an extremely varied story, with some chains exhibiting astonishing growth, while others witnessed declines over their prior-year sales.

"Burgers are more popular than ever, and represent some of the hottest trends in the industry," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic Information Services, Chicago. "Given the overall strength in the segment and consumer interest in variety and customization, burgers provide a great avenue for innovation and sales growth."

Technomic Information Services tracks the foodservice industry, providing industry intelligence, forecasts, data and training support to manufacturers, operators, distributors and others allied to the field.

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