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Bigging up burgers

According to Mintel, the UK’s burger market is estimated to be worth an impressive £3.3bn while the NPD Group expects burgers to lead growth, both in visits and consumer spend, over the next few years. Outlets serving burgers are likely to see visits grow by +5.1% this year and a further +4.5% in 2019, predicts the NPD Group. Similarly by including burgers on the menu, casual dining chains are forecast to increase visits by +2.8% in 2018 and +2.7% next year.

“Burgers remain one of the most popular and most ordered dishes in the UK, with the rise in Americana and diner-style outlets having been prominent in recent years,” says Jessie McCarthy, Brand Manager, Kepak Frozen Division. “Consumers aged 18-24 are greatly influencing this trend, and their search for new and innovative ways to eat make the easily personalised burger an obvious attraction.

Burgers are the third most popular dish for takeaway and delivery food, with 82 million servings each year.

Gourmet possibilities

“With 54% of consumers seeing customisable toppings as indicative of a gourmet burger, getting the optional extras right is key to giving your customers a premium offer,” continues McCarthy. “Toppings such as pulled pork and bacon add extra theatre to the offering, while tasty cheeses, flavoursome relishes and pickles are also great add-ons to make dishes stand apart from the competition.”

BurgerIt’s - almost - all about the bun

Lantmännen Unibake’s Americana brand has released insights from a new burger study, spanning analysis of the burger market by one of the UK’s leading burger bloggers (Burger Lad), burger insights and preferences from consumers, and expert advice from leading industry decision makers. The study reveals:

  • On average 69% of a burger is bun, showing that serving a high-quality bun is key to delivering the burger your customers want
  • 83% of pubs and restaurateurs and 84% of consumers agree that a high-quality bun is a key characteristic of a gourmet burger
  • 71% of pubs and restaurants already serve gourmet buns
  • On average, consumers are willing to pay up to £1.25 more for their burger to come in a gourmet bun
  • Trading up to gourmet buns is identified as the key way for outlets to maximise sales. 

Commenting on the findings, Simon Dukes, a.k.a ‘Burger Lad’ said: “This campaign provides further proof that operators need to do all they can to make their burger offering stand out in a hugely competitive market.

“The bun is the first thing you notice when you go to eat your burger, and it says a lot about the type of burger you are eating. The majority of the cheaper, fast food options we saw had a flatter, smaller, sesame seed bun. Not very exciting, but it does the job at the lower end of the burger scale.

“For the more premium options we measured, brioche was a popular choice. Despite the vast difference in the burgers and price points charged, the percentage of the burger to bun ratio was relatively even, from fast food to gourmet.”


Melissa Marquis, director, Pollocks Pub Co in Cornwall agrees that the bun is a critical part of the burger offer: “The presentation of a perfect burger bun is all about the quality of the bread – we use locally baked brioche – and also taking into account the bun to patty ratio. If the bun’s too big for the patty you don’t get the full flavour of the meat in a bite and if the bun’s not big enough you end up with too much burger meat left, which can also be unsatisfactory.

“Finally, ensure the burger bun is toasted in such a way that the bottom of the bun is crisp and golden while the inside is steamy and fresh and you start improving the overall quality of your burger.”

Click here for more burger insight from Lantmännen Unibake.

Chicken burgerChicken burger

Chicken burgers are becoming increasingly popular as customers step away from the traditional beef burger. Big Al’s Chicken Fillets are ideal for a poultry burger. Steam cooked, bar marked and created with 100% fully cooked chicken breast meat, they are a versatile product and a good addition to burger menus.


Veggie burgerVeggie burger

“Time was when a handful of limp veggie sausages would tide over the odd vegetarian guest. Not anymore,” says Karen Deans, MD of frozen food specialists Field Fare, whose offer includes a new vegetarian Lentil and Vegetable burger.

“As the flexitarianism lobby gets louder, with 35% of Brits now claiming to be semi-vegetarian and vegetarianism and veganism on a global increase, this is a consumer base that can no longer be ignored, nor fobbed off. Remember, if anything, the vegetarian consumer is all the more diet aware and therefore demanding of foodie credentials.”

Charcoal-infused brioche bunCharcoal-infused brioche bun

“The use of charcoal as an addition to foods as diverse as ice cream and hot dogs has migrated across the Atlantic from New York where fashionable foodies are expounding its reputed health benefits,” says Tom Styman-Heighton, Development Chef at Funnybones Foodservice, which recently brought a new charcoal-infused brioche bun to market. “With glamorous good looks, black foods are very popular with Instagrammers and add instant drama to a plate. Our charcoal buns look particularly effective served with a chicken breast burger creating a black and white effect.”


Burger machine“Making fresh burgers from scratch and highlighting this on menus is a great way for operators to create a buzz around their dishes and increase overall sales,” says Paul Siouville, Buffalo Brand Manager for Nisbets Plc. “Made from easy-to-clean anodised aluminium, our Buffalo Manual Hamburger Machine enables operators to produce high-quality burgers of the same size and shape every time, ensuring they are able to deliver consistency across their menu.”


Natalie Brereton is a passionate foodie and blogger with a particular love for burgers. EC caught up with her to find out what she – and other burger consumers – are looking for in a burger.

“Living in Bristol, I am spoilt for choice when it comes to food and drink,” says Natalie. “Our restaurant and bar scene is vibrant and eclectic, with so much choice in every pocket of the city. Since summer 2017, however, we have seen burgers explode in a huge way. I remember attending two or three new openings in the space of a week – was it too much? Absolutely not!”

With increasing competition in the burger arena, here are Natalie’s tips for operators on how to offer the perfect burger:

1. Praise the bun
I know, it sounds so simple right? But trust me, the bun makes a big difference. The bun is the foundation that keeps everything together, it needs to be sturdy. Have you thought of offering a selection of buns?

2. Don’t overload
Avoid the temptation to include too many ingredients as this makes the burger very difficult to handle. Keep the burger exciting, but still manageable to eat.

3. It’s all about the quality
In Bristol, our independent burger restaurants know all about quality. If you haven’t got quality meat or accompaniments, you are missing a trick.

4. Get messy
In my book, it’s actually a sin to eat a burger with a knife and fork. This is just not what burgers were designed for. That burger bap is for both hands and never mind if your face gets covered in sauce. Some burger restaurants simply place a whole kitchen roll on the table for burger eaters to mop themselves up with – great idea.

5. Gotta be gherkins
Gherkins add so much to a burger – the slight sweetness of them complements the seasoned meat beautifully, while the crunch adds texture.

Read more about Natalie’s love affair with burgers on her blog.
Twitter: @NatalieBrereton or @BigBurgerCrawl
Instagram: @NatalieBrereton

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