Burgers Bang Out Banner Year

by | 3 minute read

Against tough com­pe­ti­tion from oth­er sand­wich­es and flat to declin­ing restau­rant traf­fic, burg­ers ordered at U.S. restau­rants and food­ser­vice out­lets had a ban­ner year in 2014, finds food­ser­vice mar­ket research from The NPD Group. There were 9 bil­lion serv­ings of burg­ers ordered at U.S. restau­rants and food­ser­vice out­lets in 2014, an increase of 3% com­pared to pri­or year, accord­ing to NPD‰Ûªs ongo­ing food­ser­vice mar­ket research.

Cor­re­spond­ing with the serv­ings ordered at restau­rants are ground beef ship­ments from food­ser­vice dis­trib­u­tors to restau­rants and oth­er food­ser­vice out­lets. Bulk ground beef unit ship­ments to total food­ser­vice out­lets increased by 2%, reports NPD‰Ûªs Sup­ply­Trackå¨, a month­ly ser­vice that tracks every prod­uct shipped from major broad­line dis­trib­u­tors to food­ser­vice oper­a­tors. Bulk ground beef case ship­ments to quick-service restau­rants increased by 3%, by 4% to quick-service ham­burg­er restau­rants, which dri­ve 70% of bulk ground beef sales, and 1% to full-service restau­rants.

The burg­er category‰Ûªs gain is the sand­wich category‰Ûªs loss. Sand­wich serv­ings over­all declined by 2% in 2014 com­pared to 2013, a serv­ings vol­ume loss of 201 mil­lion, finds NPD. Grilled chick­en sand­wich­es, which tend to be burgers‰Ûª chief com­peti­tor, had a chal­leng­ing year with a serv­ings decline of 9%, a loss of 129 mil­lion serv­ings.

Burg­er serv­ing increas­es also out­paced food­ser­vice traf­fic growth in 2014, which was flat for the total food­ser­vice indus­try and quick-service restau­rants, and declined by 1% and 3%, respec­tive­ly, at casu­al din­ing and fam­i­ly din­ing (mid­scale) restau­rants. Vis­its to quick-service ham­burg­er restau­rants, at which burg­ers were includ­ed in 51% of orders, were down 3% though ham­burg­er serv­ings were up 3%.

Although burg­ers typ­i­cal­ly aren‰Ûªt a top item ordered at casual-dining restau­rants ‰ÛÓ only 11% of casu­al din­ing orders includ­ed a burg­er ‰ÛÓ burg­er serv­ings increased by 4%. More burg­ers were added to casual-dining restau­rant menus to off­set high­er beef prices and the need to charge more for beef entrees; and con­sumers chose burg­ers over high­er priced beef entrees. Beef entree serv­ings declined by 8% at casual-dining restau­rants, a serv­ings vol­ume loss of 55 mil­lion, reports NPD.

‰ÛÏThe suc­cess of burg­ers in 2014 was a com­bi­na­tion of factors,‰Û says Bon­nie Rig­gs, NPD‰Ûªs restau­rant indus­try ana­lyst. ‰ÛÏQuick-service restau­rant chains launched new burg­er items, casual-dining restau­rants added more burg­er items to the menu to off­set high­er beef costs, and Amer­i­cans sim­ply love their burgers.‰Û

Accord­ing to Audi­enceS­CAN, 9% of Amer­i­cans are fast-food lovers. These are con­sumers who eat fast food more than 5 times a week (3.3%) and those who eat fast food 4 to 5 times per week (5.6%). 65% are men. Young adults aged 18–24 are 99% more like­ly than aver­age to love and con­sume fast food.

Divorced and sin­gle eaters are going the fast-food route, with 48% lovin' it. 36% are renters. A sur­pris­ing 48% live in urban loca­tions. You already know they're on the go, so try mar­ket­ing to them via mobile. Fast-food lovers are 100% more like­ly than aver­age to take action based on a mobile smart­phone app or text mes­sage adver­tise­ment.

Audi­enceS­CAN data is avail­able as part of a sub­scrip­tion to AdMall for Agen­cies. Media com­pa­nies can access Audi­enceS­CAN data through the Audi­ence Intel­li­gence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Court­ney is the Edi­tor for Sales­Fu­el Today. She ana­lyzes sec­ondary cus­tomer research and our pri­ma­ry Audi­enceS­CAN research. Court­ney is a grad­u­ate of Mid­dle Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty.