Food trends may come and go, but a burger never goes out of style. If anything, it has become more sophisticated over the years – and love for it among guests hasn’t faded. Th e burger’s popularity is in part thanks to increased availability and variety of high-quality customization options, which are particularly appealing to younger generations like Millennials.
Even with rising prices and interest in non-meat options, especially vegetarian, foodservice operators can find innovative ways to satisfy cravings for burgers. Small upgrades to your burgers can have a big impact on profits. For example, a recent study by Datassential showed that a burger served inside a premium, fluff brioche bun will command an average profit of 27% more than
your standard burger on a sesame seed bun.
In Technomic’s 2015 Burger Consumer Trend Report, burger consumption remains high, with 57% of consumers eating the beloved sandwich at least once a week, of those 39% purchasing
from fast food outlets, 37% making at home, and 16% enjoying at a fast-casual establishment. Boutique operators who focus on higher quality ingredients as well as chefs getting creative with the standard bun-patty-condiment formula have helped spur the rise of the better burger movement. “Utilizing value beef cuts and incorporating non-beef proteins can help lower costs and broaden the range of demand that burgers can satisfy,” explains Sara Monnette, Technomic vice president.
“Specialty ingredients like brioche or pretzel buns can enhance the value perception, and unique toppings and sauces, stuffed patties and premium sides can add to craveability and brand differentiation.” At limited service restaurants, chicken is the fastest-growing non-beef option with a 23% menu-item incidence, followed by 14% barbeque and 10% veggie. Full-service restaurants are embracing build-your-own, growing by 28%.
But it’s not enough to just have a patty between a bun with perhaps some cheese. Even though the burger remains popular, to satisfy customers’ expanding palates and desires, restaurants will need to be more creative than ever with unique experiences and bold flavors. The burger is also a vehicle for chefs to show off their creative side. A unique burger featuring artisan bread, out-of-the-ordinary condiments, alternative protein and innovative toppings could be today’s limited time offer and tomorrow’s menu mainstay.
No longer just a quick bite from the drive-thru, sliders have become staples on restaurant menus, from fast food to white-tablecloth steakhouses. Hospitality consulting firm Andrew Freeman & Co. says sliders are not just mini beef burgers. “Due to their small size, they’re the perfect mini-bite indulgence for restaurants to experiment with,” according to Freeman’s annual report of his 2016 trend forecast. Sliders fit in well with shareable and small plates because customers can buy a few and share with the table.
Would You Like Fries With That?
The French fry is just as iconic as the burger, and the options abound, whether it’s waffle cut, pomme frites or even poutine, the Canadian classic of fries, curds, and gravy. Or, consider ditching potatoes completely and serve alternative fries, such as zucchini. You can breathe new life into the familiar fry with unexpected spices such as Caribbean jerk or togarashi, the fiery Japanese spice mixture. More health-conscious diners will want an option that’s not fried so a bright slaw of hearty veggies such as cabbage and carrots or a salad that complements the flavor in the burger will fulfill that desire.
And on the other side of the spectrum, go over the top. Pair your custom burgers with a custom Bloody Mary bar or take it one step further – put the burger on the drink. In a twist on the hangover special, some food operators are going as far as putting a slider on top of a Bloody Mary.