Burgers stay strong as American favorite

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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ROSEMONT, ILL. — Seven per cent more restaurants offer burgers on their menus than did two years ago, according to The NPD Group and Datassential, a food service research firm.

"The burger is an American classic, right up there with mom and apple pie," said Michele Schmal, vice-president of food service product management at NPD. "More restaurants are offering burgers because of the food’s wide appeal. There is less risk because burgers consistently rank among the top foods ordered."

In 2007, there were 8.5 billion burgers ordered in all restaurants, equal to 14% of all restaurant orders. According to the NPD Group, part of the appeal is the wide variety of tastes and sizes in burgers. Bread such as brioche, ciabatta and multigrain are being used for buns, and toppings are expanding to include portobellos, peppers and spinach. Cheeses such as pepper jack, parmesan and Tillamook are competing with the more traditional cheddar.

As a burger flavor, chipotle grew 55% between 2006 and 2007 with aioli growing 33%. Variations in the burger patty also are becoming more popular with Angus and Kobe burgers being ordered more often and soy, salmon and chicken patties becoming more mainstream.

"Restaurant operators are customizing burgers to reflect their cuisine and concept," said Jack Li, relevance strategist for Datassential. "Burger innovation enables restaurants to differentiate themselves and cater to the unique tastes of their customers."

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