Mintel looked at some consumer trends when it comes to burgers. 

CHICAGO – Market intelligence agency, Mintel has new research showing that four out of five Americans surveyed believe burgers are a good source of nutrients, but because of negative perceptions regarding beef’s healthfulness, almost half of consumers have an interest in non-beef burger alternatives.

Mintel’s survey states consumer interest in chicken burgers at 46 percent of consumers, interest in turkey burgers at 42 percent and interest in buffalo/bison burgers at 34 percent. Overall, 80 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for burgers made from premium ingredients in general. Sixty-two percent of consumers agree that they love burgers, regardless.

Millennials show the most interest in non-beef burgers (64 percent) based on menu healthiness being the most important factor when choosing restaurants. Three in five millennials would like to see more chicken options, and two in five more turkey options. Millennial diners show more interest in non-beef burgers than any other generation surveyed.

“While the majority of Americans view burgers as a good source of nutrients, this is more indicative of health concerns being a non-factor as opposed to seeing burgers as a healthy choice. Further, we find that the decreasing consumption of beef is not affecting consumption of burgers, driven by Americans seeking more non-beef burger options,” said Caleb Bryant, Foodservice Analyst at Mintel. “Non-beef burgers appeal to diners for a number of reasons. Beyond offering less fatty, more nutritious alternatives, non-beef burgers tend to have a ‘wow’ factor as they are new and different to many consumers. Having a line-up of non-beef burgers can help a restaurant’s menu stand out from other restaurants’ burger offerings.”

In addition to the increasing popularity in non-beef burger options, burgers using grass-feed beef have also become more interesting to consumers. Forty-three percent of consumers want to see more grass-fed burgers on menus and 79 percent of those who eat burgers regularly believe it’s a higher quality product.           

The importance of knowing the origin of food also has increased among consumers. For burger eaters, 59 percent agreed that knowing the origin of the beef used in a burger was important.

“With its purported superior taste, healthfulness claims and ‘feel good’ connotations, burgers made with grass-fed beef are an especially important foodservice trend right now. Diners today are interested not only in food that is good for them, they also want food that makes them feel good. This is magnified for food that comes with a ‘story,’ as consumers increasingly want to know where their food was made and how it was prepared and produced. This presents an opportunity for restaurants to better compete with retail packaged beef, which often times does not provide such information to consumers,” Bryant said.

To keep consumers interested in the menu staple, restaurants continuously work to re-imagine the burger as 20 percent of regular burger eaters claim that when eating out, burgers are boring. Mintel’s Menu Insights found that the term “cheeseburger” on menus decreased 15 percent and “burger” decreased 6 percent from Q4 2012 to Q4 2015, while items on menus such as “bacon burger” and “Southwest burger” grew.

“While burgers are a favorite for many Americans, restaurants must work hard to make their burgers stand out. Consumers are interested in new burger formulations, allowing restaurants to take chances with their menu. This gives restaurants the opportunity to branch out with multiple ingredient options and toppings to separate themselves from competitors, and can be accomplished by offering high quality buns and cheeses, as consumers are willing to pay more for premium ingredients for a food they love,” Bryant concluded.