Consumers turn to better burgers

In greater numbers than ever before, consumers have been trading up into fresh meat cuts and giving a big thumbs-down to the frozen products that were so much implicated in the recent horsemeat revelations.

Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the fresh burger and grills sector which, in the latest four-week period for which figures are available, saw sales double over the previous four-week period (Kantar Worldpanel, 4 weeks to 12 May 2013 versus 4 weeks to 12 April 2013).

The sector is up 8% on a year ago and is almost wholly responsible for the overall growth in the beef market. The latest market statistics also indicate that, after their initial widespread rejection of the burger and other processed products, consumers are coming back into the burger sector, but opting for fresh, and particularly premium-tier, products.

If the most recent figures show an upsurge in premium burger sales, they indicate arguably an acceleration of a trend that has been apparent for several years and that more consumers have been persuaded to join the quest for quality as a direct result of the horsemeat scandal.

Evidence that the trend towards premium burgers has been underway for some time comes from the foodservice sector. New-concept establishments specialising in premium burgers have been springing up left, right and centre. One major supplier to the sector reports that its sales of burgers have increased five-fold in the past decade, and it has had to build a dedicated burger production facility as a result.

There is further evidence from the foodservice sector that points to the opportunities for the retail sector – for both multiple retailers and independent butchers: instead of opting for steak as a menu choice with a higher price point, people dining out have preferred to choose a premium burger as a tasty, value for-money alternative. It means they can still enjoy beef (or lamb) out-of-home, but at an affordable price without compromising on enjoying the occasion.

Where foodservice leads, retail often follows and it is clear that consumers in retail are also opting for better-quality burgers as an affordable, value-for-money way to enjoy red meat.

It is a real opportunity for the sector to respond to consumer demand and step up, providing an exciting and innovative range of premium burgers – with the added benefit of generating enhanced profit margins.

MTJ will be providing expert advice over the coming months on ways to create a range of quality burgers to satisfy consumers and to take advantage of the premiumisation of the category.

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