Better burgers on the menu

Research from Mintel finds that consumers are looking for a “better burger”, with 7% of those who have visited a fast-food restaurant in the past three months saying they have switched from these restaurants to gourmet burger restaurants.

Users aged 16-34 have been the main switchers, with one in 10 (12%) trading up.

Those aged 16-34 are the most likely to prefer a gourmet burger and are also the most likely age group to visit fast-food restaurants. Four in five (81%) UK consumers aged 16-34 have eaten in a fast-food restaurant in the past three months, compared to the national average of 65%.

The research also revealed that 52% of UK consumers who have eaten or bought food from a fast-food restaurant in the past three months said they would be interested in trying gourmet burgers from fast-food chains.

According to Mintel, sales in the overall burger bar market are expected to post growth of 4.5% to £3.2 billion in 2015 and a growth of 19% predicted between 2015 and 2020 to reach £3.8bn.

Thicker is better

The survey found that 29% of fast-food users are interested in burgers from fast-food venues containing thicker meat, 26% in a greater selection of burger toppings and 24% are interested in burgers made using more premium bread.

Richard Ford, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, explained the growth of gourmet burgers.

“The gourmet burger trend continues seemingly unabated, adding value and interest to the burger market. Gourmet burgers have prospered during the economic downturn through their status as an affordable meal that still offers indulgence. The ongoing expansion of ‘better burger’ restaurants continues to add value to the market by encouraging trading-up. Offering thicker burgers and a greater range of patty meats should provide burger operators with opportunities to further entice customers and maintain their interest.”

Although consumers are looking to treat themselves, Mintel’s research reveals that over half (54%) of fast-food restaurant users are concerned about the amount of fat in burgers and 48% are concerned about the amount of calories in them. In addition, almost a third (31%) of fast food restaurant visitors say concerns about the healthiness of fast food have caused them to limit the amount they eat.

Despite this, 39% of fast-food restaurant users believe that gourmet burgers are better for you than burgers from a fast-food restaurant.

However, Mintel’s research shows that bite-size treats may be the preferred choice for health-conscious fast-food diners. 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.

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