Hot Off the Grill: CHD Expert Evaluates the Latest Burger Trends
As the summer continues to sizzle, so does one of America’s favorite foods: Hamburgers. CHD Expert, the Chicago-based foodservice data and analytics firm, has evaluated the current hamburger restaurant landscape of the United States and uncovered recent trends that offer new insight into this market.
As of August 2015, there are over 49,000 hamburger restaurants in the United States. In 2014, Independent burger restaurants grew 6.7 percent in units, whereas chain burger restaurants showed limited overall growth. The Fast Casual segment however is still on the rise, with four of the Top 10 Fast Casual Growth Chains being classified in the Burger segment. Independent burger restaurants make up 14% of the entire burger market. To access the 2015 Burger Trends Report in its entirety, please click here.
Hamburgers are a quintessential American comfort food, with both chains and unique independents serving up their take on this favorite main dish. The history of the hamburger is as interesting and delicious as the modern burger renaissance that is upon us, and as pointed out by America’s foremost hamburger expert George Motz, when the Hamburg steak evolved to be served on sliced bread around the turn of the 20th century the food industry changed forever.
Fast forward to modern day and there are many innovative chefs cooking gourmet burgers with high-end ingredients and unique toppings (imagine a Kobe beef slider with bacon pickle jam and stilton). While these new gourmet burgers are all the rage, the US burger landscape is still dominated by chains. Almost 50 percent of the 92 hamburger chains are considered Fast Casual, offering a trendier atmosphere and fresh ingredients, while charging a higher price. The top five Quick Service chains in terms of number of units nationwide include McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Jack In the Box.
Some nationally recognized chains such as In-N-Out Burger and White Castle, enjoy cult-like followings that elevate their burgers above consideration as just a simple quick meal.
In-N-Out devotees are willing to cross state lines just to order the Double Double, perhaps an Animal Style burger, or any other of items on the chain’s not-so-secret “secret menu.” In-N-Out expanded beyond its California roots with locations in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Texas. The chain plans to open a location in Oregon later this year.
Nearly 100 years ago, White Castle standardized the hamburger and pioneered the fast food model in America, becoming the first widely recognized chain burger restaurant. The timeless chain’s burgers are known for being small, but its cult following is larger than life, as demonstrated by its big screen feature “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” and the availability of frozen White Castle hamburgers in grocery stores nation wide. Hungry customers can get their fix without leaving their kitchens or lifting a spatula.
Other regional chains may not inspire the same fanaticism, but they still have a huge footprint in the areas they serve. For example, with more than 700 locations, Southern burger chain Whataburger has penetration into 10 states, with more than 80% of their units located in their home state of Texas.
Considering the entire US Limited Service Restaurants (LSR), Hamburger menu type makes up over 14% of the LSR landscape, second only to the Pizza menu type. The trend of creating the “better burger” in the industry seems to be an ongoing competition in this category. Any foodservice provider that sells a service or product that could assist restaurants in the creation of the “better burger” should not ignore the burger cuisine. With over 7,000 Independent Hamburger restaurants nationwide, there is a lot of opportunity to sell unique products into this market that has created a trend that American’s seem to love.
“The burger market in the United States is a multi billion dollar business,” said Brad Bloom, VP of Sales and Marketing at CHD Expert, The Americas. “Americans visit hamburger restaurants en masse and have turned many of the top burger restaurants into household names. As this landscape continues to expand, new opportunities for generating profitability begin to present themselves to manufacturers and suppliers. Each new trend represents a new opportunity for growth, be it with a new start up concept restaurant or an established chain.”
To obtain detailed information on hamburger restaurants and foodservice data, please contact Brad Bloom: [email protected].
Subscribe to Mailing List