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Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Burger Trends– US market including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

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What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

Burgers are a good opportunity for operators looking to drive
traffic, especially in uncertain times. Not only are they popular
with consumers on taste, as a means of flavor exploration and
comfort, they solidly deliver on portability and customization, which
allows operators to maintain and deliver on product integrity while
facilitating off-premise operations. Still, there are challenges:
product shortages, rising beef prices and supressed consumer
spending mean operators must prove the value of their offerings
through ongoing promotions and LTOs. Cost-effective menu
innovation can help operators navigate these challenges, while
durable, flavorful and unique ingredients can lend value and keep
consumers engaged even at home.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Emma Allmann, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Burgers are a foodservice favorite that offer flavor and ingredient versatility that makes them a comforting and convenient choice for consumers looking for familiarity or adventure in their quarantine cuisine. In these uncertain economic times, QSRs and fast casuals are not surprisingly seeing the most success with burgers due to existing off-premise investments and lower prices, indicating that FSRs will need to prove value and quality to consumers to compete.
Emma Allmann
Food and Drink Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Definition
          • COVID-19: Market context
          • Executive Summary

              • Top takeaways
                • Market overview
                  • Impact of COVID-19 on foodservice burgers
                    • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on foodservice burgers, November 2020
                  • Opportunities and challenges
                    • QSRs thrive while FSRs struggle to survive
                      • Figure 2: Burger purchases by segment, August 2020
                    • Restaurant burgers offer a change of pace as cooking fatigue sets in
                      • Figure 3: Reasons for ordering restaurant burgers, August 2020
                    • Non-peak occasions can grow burger appeal
                      • Figure 4: Burger attitudes, any agree, August 2020
                    • Ghost kitchens are a not-so-scary opportunity
                      • Plant-based burgers need to evolve for a sustainable future
                        • Figure 5: Motivations for trying a plant-based burger, August 2020
                    • The Market – Key Takeaways

                      • Where IS the beef?
                        • Consumers crave value
                          • The burger evolves
                          • Market Factors

                            • Beef prices will challenge the foodservice market
                              • Figure 6: Changes in consumer price index, beef and veal, 2018-21
                            • Comfort and health are at odds
                              • Consumer confidence has taken a dip
                                • Figure 7: Consumer Sentiment Index, January 2007-October 2020
                              • Prioritization of value means restaurants must provide high quality, affordable burgers
                                • A virtual reality
                                • Market Opportunities

                                  • Regional flavors and ingredients take diners on a culinary road trip
                                    • Figure 8: Experience and interest in regional American cuisines, August 2020
                                  • The casualization of fine dining
                                    • Barely beef: meat substitutes shine
                                      • Figure 9: Innovative plant-based burgers on the menu
                                  • Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

                                    • The mighty LTO spells success
                                      • Celebrities can do more than endorse
                                        • Non-meat burgers must offer something new
                                        • Competitive Strategies

                                          • Burger LTOs successfully balance innovation and value
                                            • Figure 10: LTO Burger flavor and format menu innovation
                                          • Celebrity endorsements: diners are lovin’ it
                                            • Wendy’s focuses on pre-COVID experiences and premiumization
                                              • Figure 11: Wendy’s Facebook ad
                                            • Proprietary non-meat burgers can be a point of differentiation
                                              • Figure 12: Graze’s Beet and Walnut Burger
                                          • The Consumer – Key Takeaways

                                            • Burgers have universal appeal
                                              • Flavor and ingredient twists can encourage AFH burger purchases
                                                • Health continues to drive plant-based burger interest, but restaurants need to create unique meat-free options
                                                • Segment Visitation and Order Method

                                                  • QSRs dominate the burger landscape
                                                    • Figure 13: Burger purchases by segment, August 2020
                                                  • FSRs may see a repeat of the Great Recession
                                                    • Figure 14: Burger purchases by segment, by household income, August 2020
                                                  • Existing takeout infrastructure benefits LSRs
                                                    • Figure 15: Burger King’s “Restaurant of Tomorrow” concept, September 2020
                                                    • Figure 16: Burger order method by segment, among segment visitors, August 2020
                                                  • Younger men are burger delivery consumers
                                                    • Figure 17: Burger order method, delivery, by any purchase, by gender and age, August 2020
                                                • Burger Cheese Interest

                                                  • Soft white cheeses garner most consumer interest
                                                    • Figure 18: Burger cheese interest, August 2020
                                                  • Non-dairy cheeses gain popularity
                                                    • Figure 19: TURF analysis – cheese preferences, August 2020
                                                    • Figure 20: Table – TURF analysis – cheese preferences, August 2020
                                                  • Burger cheese gets saucy
                                                    • Figure 21: Top 10 burger cheeses, Q2 2017-20
                                                • Burger Topping Interest

                                                  • Burgers are better with bacon
                                                    • Figure 22: Burger topping interest, August 2020
                                                  • Men like burgers with a kick
                                                    • Figure 23: Burger topping interest, by gender, August 2020
                                                  • Consumers lean towards flavorful proteins
                                                    • Figure 24: TURF analysis – topping preferences, August 2020
                                                    • Figure 25: Table – TURF analysis – topping preferences, August 2020
                                                  • Menus favor indulgent toppings
                                                    • Figure 26: Top 10 burger toppings, Q2 2017-20
                                                • Burger Protein Interest

                                                  • Beef still reigns supreme, but nearly half are interested in non-meat burgers
                                                    • Figure 27: Burger protein interest, August 2020
                                                  • Age and health go hand in hand
                                                    • Figure 28: Burger protein interest, by age, August 2020
                                                  • Offer more seafood and meat substitute options
                                                    • Figure 29: TURF analysis – protein preferences, August 2020
                                                    • Figure 30: Table – TURF analysis – protein preferences, August 2020
                                                  • Garden burgers are growing
                                                    • Figure 31: Top 10 menued burgers, Q2 2017-20
                                                • Burger Bun Interest

                                                  • Buns knead to be hearty
                                                    • Figure 32: Burger bun interest, August 2020
                                                  • Premium breads are on the rise
                                                    • Figure 33: TURF analysis – bread preferences, August 2020
                                                    • Figure 34: Table – TURF analysis – bread preferences, August 2020
                                                  • Operators have yet to pandemic-proof their buns
                                                    • Figure 35: Top 10 burger buns/bread, Q2 2017-20
                                                • Burger Type Interest

                                                  • Fresh beef is the expectation; premium is the goal
                                                    • Figure 36: Burger type interest, August 2020
                                                  • Higher-income consumers will pay for a better burger
                                                    • Figure 37: Burger type interest, by household income, August 2020
                                                  • Young consumers want burgers to fit into their diets
                                                    • Figure 38: Burger type interest, by gender and age, August 2020
                                                • Reasons for Ordering Restaurant Burgers

                                                  • Burgers can break up the monotony
                                                    • The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the value of community support
                                                      • Figure 39: Reasons for ordering restaurant burgers, August 2020
                                                    • Younger generations view restaurant burgers as higher quality
                                                      • Figure 40: Reasons for ordering restaurant burgers, by generation, any agree August 2020
                                                    • Parents believe restaurant burgers are better quality, but there’s room to improve convenience perceptions
                                                      • Figure 41: Reasons for ordering restaurant burgers, by parental status, any agree August 2020
                                                  • Attitudes toward Burgers

                                                    • Snack-based positioning can expand burger occasions
                                                      • Figure 42: Attitudes toward burgers, any agree, August 2020
                                                    • Consumers tighten budgets as beef price rises
                                                      • Help Millennials break the monotony
                                                        • Figure 43: Attitudes toward burgers, by generation, August 2020
                                                      • Lead with flavor, but don’t neglect value with parents
                                                        • Figure 44: Attitudes toward burgers, by parental status, August 2020
                                                    • Motivations for Trying a Plant-based Burger

                                                      • Find the balance between health and indulgence
                                                        • Figure 45: Motivations for trying a plant-based burger, August 2020
                                                      • Creative plant-based burgers will attract diners beyond the initial sense of novelty
                                                        • Premium plants appeal to Millennials and Gen X
                                                          • Figure 46: Motivations for trying a plant-based burger, by generation, August 2020
                                                        • Fine dining needs to accelerate plant-based innovation
                                                          • Figure 47: Motivations for trying a plant-based burger, by burger segment visitation, August 2020
                                                      • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                        • Data sources
                                                          • Consumer survey data
                                                            • Direct marketing creative
                                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                • Appendix – The Market

                                                                    • Figure 48: US beef consumption 2009-19
                                                                • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                  • TURF – Methodology

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