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Beefing up your burgers

Over the last few years, the focus and interest in burgers has grown exponentially, especially with people dining out of home. However, where once consumers were satisfied with choices comprising simply ‘plain beef burger’ or ‘with cheese’, today’s burger aficionados are looking for different meats and different flavour profiles. With Fathers’ Day, summer and popular sporting events all coming up, an innovative burger menu will help to entice the punters through your door rather than through that of the competition.

The latest data from Kantar Worldpanel shows that in the 52 weeks ending 26 April 2016, Fresh Burger volumes grew by 1% year-on-year to stand at 47,035 tonnes – this growth was on the back of impressive 10% gains the previous year. Within this growth, it is the gourmet – or premium – burger that is reigning supreme.

Consumers demand premium burgers

“Added value or gourmet burgers are big business for foodservice right now,” comments Hugh Judd, foodservice project manager for AHDB Beef & Lamb. “There has been a real upsurge in the sale of premium quality featuring single muscle beef cuts such as rump, chuck or brisket. Mincing trim from the rump, chuck or brisket can significantly improve margin potential, as well as creating different taste and texture profiles, which many consumers prefer.”

As part of its review of what’s trending among consumers and product offerings, AHDB Beef & Lamb has produced the ‘Summer Retail Trends’ report, which highlights the trend for premium burger ranges and outlines the potential growth areas for 2016.

Pita burger with beerFlavour trends

With new tastes and trends evolving in the market and burgers becoming bolder, it is important to acknowledge these trends and offer something different to make your venue stand out from the crowd.

“Burger seasonings, toppings and buns are evolving into taste experiences from around the world, as flavours from Japan, Korea and the US hit the burger market in the UK,” comments Jessica Lalor, brand development manager, Kerrymaid.

“When it comes to burger seasonings there is a clear shift away from more traditional flavours, instead ethnic influences are starting to make an appearance on menus. While smoked flavours such as rich BBQ remain on trend, hot and spicy seasonings are coming into their own with sriracha (chilli peppers, garlic, sugar and salt) and harrissa (roasted red peppers, fresh coriander, caraway seeds and garlic) pastes complementing consumer demand for spicy seasoned burgers.

“In addition, exotic flavour combinations such as Banh Mi (a juicy and exotic Vietnamese-inspired bread using ginger, coriander, lime, pepper and umami) and Kimchi (a Korean dish that includes soy sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame) are being used to upgrade chicken burgers and in turn help to increase price points. Add to that a brand-new seasoning trend that will see tea and coffee rubs complement meat flavours, and there will be an explosion of new flavours over the coming months.”

Hugh Judd agrees and urges operators to consider different meats as well as exotic seasoning: “Lamb mince works great with international flavourings – especially spices. For something truly innovative, why not offer a Masala Lamb Burger? Adding 25ml garam masala with a few green chillis, ginger and garlic makes a delicious and innovative choice for those customers who fancy a burger with a spicy edge – the perfect compromise for those who can’t decide between a curry or a burger!”





Garam Masala

Garam Masala

Topping trends

“Unsurprisingly, we are seeing unique topping trends enter the market too,” continues Jessica. “While homemade pickle toppings are becoming increasingly popular, we are also seeing a new trend for burgers topped with sliced hot dogs as consumers crave new flavour combinations, proteins and textures. Cheese can be complemented with flavours such as chorizo, citrus and Mediterranean flavours, which will be in high demand, as consumers look for even more flexibility around burger customisation.”

Burger slidersMini sliders

Another trend to watch for 2016 is the increase in popularity of ‘mini sliders’ filtering into the foodservice market. These smaller burgers are quick to cook, ideal for children and light bites, and add interest to burger product ranges.

“When people dine out of home they are, of course, looking to treat themselves, however many will have concerns about the amount of fat and calories in burgers,” adds Hugh. “This is where mini-sliders can add value.

“Mintel’s 2015 research showed that bite-size treats may be the preferred choice for healthconscious fast-food diners. The research revealed that just 17% of fast-food restaurant visitors said they had ordered healthier dishes at a fast-food restaurant, but two in five (42%) said they would rather eat a smaller portion of their favourite meal in a fast-food restaurant than a reduced-calorie version.”

Father eating a burgerFathers’ Day – 19 June

Fathers’ Day is one of the biggest catering events in the calendar, with venues seeing an increase both in footfall and sales. Operators should consider offering menus targeted specifically at dads and families, as consumers are more likely to justify a family meal out to celebrate the special occasion.

“This Fathers’ Day, let diners design something that will suit individual tastes,” suggests Jessica Lalor. “Rather than selling a standard burger, why not think about introducing a ‘Build Your Own’ burger concept. ‘Build Your Own’ is a creative way of giving customers control over their meal, allowing them to be as plain or adventurous as they like.

“Father’s Day offers a great opportunity for caterers. Those who hold tailored events around Fathers’ Day will not only add to the sense of occasion, but will also encourage return visits throughout the year for other calendar events.”

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Look after the dads on Fathers’ Day and they will come back for more

OpenTable reveals all

The restaurant booking website OpenTable has recently revealed the results of a nationwide survey looking at what the UK deems to be its all-time perfect burger. The findings include the following:

  • The UK’s perfect burger is a well done, Angus steak burger that is 2.5 cm thick, topped with cheddar cheese and ketchup, inside a white sesame seed bun
  • Bacon, cheddar cheese and caramelised onions are among the most popular burger toppings
  • The nation’s favourite burger sauce is Ketchup
  • Men eat more burgers than women. British men consume 2.25 burgers a month, compared to 1.7 burgers a month for women
  • The people of Liverpool enjoy burgers the most, with Liverpudlians eating, on average, 2.4 burgers a month
  • Britain’s favourite non-beef burger is the venison burger, with 34% choosing this option over more exotic choices such as ostrich, kangaroo and even zebra.

Mike Xenakis, managing director at OpenTable comments: “As an American living in the UK, it is exciting to see a classic American dish becoming one of the most popular items on British menus. The versatility of the burger continues to be one of its biggest draws, with restaurants going to great lengths to set their offering apart from the crowd; be it topped with egg, onion rings or even macaroni and cheese. Despite this, our research shows that the popularity of the classic burger continues to endure with the top choice being a well done, Angus steak burger – topped with cheddar cheese and ketchup.”Burger on a platter

Seasoned chips and burger

Seasoned chips and fries are trending hugely, offering operators the chance to upsell simply by sprinkling seasoning on their chips. Research from Schwartz reveals that two thirds of customers would upgrade their chips to include a flavoured seasoning if it was available. And well over half of customers (60%) would be more likely to order a side of chips if they were flavoured with a seasoning.

Hellmanns grilltopia competition banner

Hellmann’s launches Britain’s Best Burger competition

Entries are now being accepted for the Britain’s Best Burger competition – sponsored by Hellmann’s. Open to all venues serving burgers, the contest comes with a grand prize £10K of PR support for the venue that lifts the title to help make it famous for its burger. The competition will also award £2500 worth of PR to its six regional winners in:

  • Scotland
  • North
  • Midlands and East
  • Wales
  • South East
  • South West

Judges will be looking for evidence of originality, quality ingredients, chef skill, a wide range of choice across the offer and great customer feedback.

Rhodri Morgan, marketing manager at Unilever Food Solutions, said: “There are lots of great burgers being served out there. We want to recognise those places doing something special. Whether it’s perfectly cooked wagyu beef, speciality mayonnaise, or twice-baked brioche buns, we want to give them the fame they deserve.”

To enter and be in with a chance to be crowned the server of Britain’s Best Burger, entries must be submitted at by 31 July 2016. Entries do not have to include Hellmann’s mayonnaise


Not everyone likes to eat meat, so here are a couple of tasty fish suggestions from Seafish.

For more recipe ideas visit

Fish burgerCodtastic Burger

Recipe courtesy of Seafish

Serves: 4


  • 2 cod fillets or any other whitefish such as coley, pollock, haddock, hake, ling or whiting
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 2 tbsp coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 dashes of lime juice
  • 2 dashes of fish sauce
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • Seasonal salad to serve


  1. Mince the fish in a food processor with the curry paste, coriander, brown sugar, lime juice and fish sauce.
  2. Spoon into a bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix in the spring onions.
  3. Divide the mixture into 4 and shape the burgers by rolling the mixture into a ball before flattening between your hands. For best results refrigerate the uncooked burgers for 2 hours prior to cooking.
  4. When you are ready to cook your burgers, grill them at a fairly high heat or BBQ them (for approximately 3 minutes each side), or pan fry on a medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side, so that the burgers take on a bit of colour on each side and are cooked through.
  5. Serve on a toasted burger bun with some seasonal salad and perhaps even an accompanying spoonful of plain yoghurt.

fish burgersFish Burgers

Recipe courtesy of Seafish

Serves: 6-8


  • 225g smoked haddock or cod fillet
  • 225g coley or haddock fillet
  • 150ml milk
  • 225g cooked mashed potatoes, cooled
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 12 tsp fresh chopped parsley
  • Black pepper
  • Flour for dusting
  • Sunflower oil to baste


  1. Preheat the grill.
  2. Place the fish into a microwaveable dish. Add the milk and cover with cling film. Pierce the film and cook the fish on HIGH for 3 minutes. Drain and leave to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin.
  3. In a large bowl combine the fish, potatoes, spring onions and parsley and a sprinkle of black pepper.
  4. Dust the hands well with flour and shape the mixture into 12 rounds and then flatten into a ‘mini burger’ shape.
  5. If time allows, chill the burgers for at least 2 hours or even overnight.
  6. Grill the burgers under a moderate heat for 15-20 minutes, turning once, basting lightly with the oil.
  7. Serve on warmed bread rolls – with toppings/accompaniments of your choice.
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