Putting the theatre back into burgers

The UK burger market is forecast to grow by an estimated 25% to reach a value of £556m at current prices from 2006-11.

Mintel says in its 'Burgers' report that, while the product has strong attraction for some consumers, it has also had an image problem. The role of burgers as the archetypal fast food has made consumers view them with suspicion, and their use of processed meat of uncertain origin has also been a problem.

However, suppliers are fighting back by improving product quality, using a high proportion of meat in the products and beef from a stated origin. One result has been the rapid premiumisation of the market in all sectors, while the economy sector has shrunk into insignificance.

Many in the industry reckon barbecues are the key driver of growth in the burger market. While hot summer weather is clearly a factor, barbecuing is also becoming more widespread and, increasingly, an everyday method of cooking.

The two fastest-growing segments in the fresh burger sector are flavoured burgers and microwaveable burgers. Marks & Spencer pioneered flavoured burgers, using ingredients such as cheese and jalapeno peppers, in 2005 and other retailers have followed suit.

Research also showed that the number of people making their own burgers from scratch has almost doubled in the last two years. Independent traders, gourmet burger chains and supermarkets with butchery counters could exploit this trend, it said, by making the burgers in front of consumers from a variety of ingredients, allowing them to choose the meat/protein content, cheese and the seasonings.

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