Four in five Americans (82%) agree that hamburgers provide a good source of key nutrients, like protein and healthy fats, according to a study by data analyst firm Mintel. Beef consumption may be slowing down in much of the western world, as consumers switch to leaner meats, like poultry, but Mintel’s study on the modern American diet reveals one aspect may never change: Americans love burgers.
In fact, three in five people surveyed (62%) said they loved burgers and would not stop eating them, despite the World Health Organization linking red meat consumption to bowel cancer.
Indeed, red meat’s poor health perception presents an opportunity to manufacturers of non-beef burgers: nearly half of all US consumers wanted more chicken burgers (46%) and two in five (42%) suggested turkey burgers would be a hit with carnivorous consumers.
“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,” Caleb Bryant, foodservice analyst at Mintel said, commenting on the report.
The decline of beef consumption in the US – which has fallen year-on-year since 2013, according to US Department of Agriculture data – hasn’t hurt the consumption of burgers. This has been driven by a surge in demand for alternative burger options, according to Mintel.
“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,” added Bryant. “Having a line-up of non-beef burgers can help a restaurant’s menu stand out from other restaurants’ burger offerings.”
Demand for chicken and turkey burgers – both of which are higher in protein and lower in fat – is highest among Generation Y (born between 1980 and 2000). This tech-savy, quinoa-guzzling generation of food photographers demands healthy dinner and 64% of them say this is the most important aspect when they choose where to eat.
Three in five Gen Y consumers would like to see more chicken burgers at restaurants and 52% would like more turkey options. But this generation isn’t self-centric, it cares just as much about what the animals are fed.
Cows fed on a grass-rich diet – which independent studies have shown presents a lower cancer risk – is piquing interest in the burger market. Four in five burger consumers believe grass-fed beef is higher in quality than traditional beef. As a result, 43% of consumers want more grass-fed burgers on their menu.
“While burgers are a favourite for many Americans, restaurants must work hard to make their burgers stand out,” said Bryant.
“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.”