Hot and Juicy Burger Trends

When it comes to burgers, everyone has his or her own personal preference. While one might crave a medium-rare chuck burger topped with caramelized onions and Swiss on a potato roll, another’s mouth will only water at the sight of a well-done sirloin burger with just a touch of ketchup on toast and a side of onion rings. Burgers celebrate independence and ingenuity and are often considered the quintessential All-American comfort food.

In celebration of National Burger Month,  Schweid & Sons, a fourth-generation ground beef purveyor based in Carlstadt, NJ, released its 2016 Burger Trends Report. Designed to help restaurants keep up with menu and marketing trends and foster innovation and creativity in the burger building process, the report is compiled from surveying Schweid’s nation-wide customer base which ranges from big chain operators to local eateries. Thirty-eight percent of respondents identified as casual, 27 percent fast casual, 17 percent quick serve, 10 percent family dining and eight percent as fine dining. This year’s report contains more data and context as questions about side items, restaurant size and marketing were added to the blend.

“The burger is an American icon and associated with a positive experience,” Schweid & Sons President Jamie Schweid told MRM magazine. “There isn’t much deviation in some categories in the trend report each year: Americans want a simple, quality burger.”

What is the average burger patty size being served in restaurants? Close to half (45 percent) of respondents report the patty size is eight ounces prior to cooking.  A five-ounce burger is second with 13 percent.

Brioche is the top-selling bun at 45 percent, followed by plain white at 17 and potato rolls at 14 percent, respectively. Rounding out the pack are sesame at six percent, Kaiser at four percent and ciabatta at three percent.

Schweid says it comes as no surprise that American cheese is the most popular coming in at 71 percent with cheddar a close second at 67 percent. Ketchup is the most popular condiment at 46 percent, followed by mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, signature sauce, chipotle mayo/aioli and aioli.

The sauce category provides the rare opportunity for chefs to differentiate and personalize the burger experience for guests, according to Schweid, and he’s seeing more unique sauces and aiolis and homemade items such as avocado jam and bacon jam.

Ninety-five percent of those surveyed report bacon as the popular additional protein followed by chili and pulled pork. Chuck is the most popular type of ground beef at 60 percent. Certified Angus was next at 31 percent followed by all-natural at 30 percent.

When it comes to pricing, burgers in the $10-$10.99 range were tops with 18 percent followed by $12-$12.99 at 14 percent. Schweid said price points have ticked up due to the quality of the burgers and the growing appeal of the all-natural category.

And though cooking temperature preferences do have regional variations, Schweid said, overall medium is tops at 52 percent, followed by medium well at 42 percent, medium rare at 13 percent and six percent for well done.

In marketing, restaurant operators regularly check Yelp and TripAdvisor; 33 percent report checking weekly, 28 percent never and 27 percent daily. Nearly all (98 percent) restaurants are using Facebook to market their business, followed by Instagram at 61 percent and Twitter at 58.

“Social media offers opportunity for restaurants to cater to the eye and the quality of the food has promotional perspective,” added Schweid.

Schweid & Sons, which traces its roots back to the late 1800s, supplies restaurants, grocers and special events by offering a full spectrum of Angus, Certified Angus Beef®, All-Natural, Wagyu, USDA Prime®, Hereford, Grassfed, Choice and custom blends. The purveyor has received a Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level 3 Certification, the highest level given by the World Standard for Safety initiative.

Photos from NYC Burger Week hosted by Schweid & Sons and featuring meat from Schweid & Sons. Photos by Rev Ciancio. Top burger photo is from Black Iron.