Burgers Bang Out Banner Year

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.