Burgers are an important revenue driver for operators. 1.3 billion are consumed each year in the UK1 and in a market worth almost £100 billion, they account for 17% of all eating out occasions2. Burgers are also growing share of main menus within pubs & bars 

To help operators tap into the revenue opportunity that burgers offer, Lantmännen Unibake’s frozen fast food breads brand Americana has analysed a cross section of 100 different burgers from the out of home market. The research identifies the part of the burger that offers the greatest revenue potential. And the answer? The bun.  

On average 69% of a burger is the bun finds Americana. This equates to over two-thirds of the burger, demonstrating the importance the bun plays in creating good first impressions and providing a quality dish that consumers are prepared to pay more for. 

Inspired by the concept of ‘Burgernomics’, a phrase coined by The Economist in 1986 with the invention of the Big Mac Index, Americana’s research explores the relationship between the bun percentage of a burger and how this translates into revenue opportunities for operators. The total height of the burger, including the fillings, and the individual heights of the heel (base) and the crown (lid), are all considered, as well as the specifics of the individual fillings. 

The Burger Profile 

The study categorised each of the 100 burgers into three tiers – classic fast foodadded value and gourmet – to build a profile of each.  

The typical classic fast food burger features a plain or sesame bun with traditional fillings such as a single beef patty, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. 43% of burgers in this category include pickles, but more adventurous fillings are more limited with the likes of jalapenos featuring in just 5% of the sample.   

In comparison, added value burgers tend to have a more visually impactful glazed bun, a fuller patty and a flavoured sauce such as sriracha. Three in four (77%) added value burgers also have additional fillings such as slaw, chillies, crispy onions or smoked bacon. Just 7% of buns in this category are plain or sesame demonstrating the trade up from classic fast food. 

Gourmet burgers most commonly feature quality, glazed brioche buns (69%), double patties with a premium American cheese, and fillings that include avocado, mushrooms and caramelised onions. Gourmet burger sauces also offer more variety than other categories with truffle mayonnaise, fig jam and BBQ salsa just some of the options across the 78% of burgers that go beyond traditional ketchup, plain mayo and mustard. With juicier, fresher and more robust fillings that cover the entire surface area of the heel, gourmet burgers lead the way in terms of taste but also visual appeal. 

Mind the Gap: Mismatch between Operator Supply and Consumer Demand 

Overall, when looking at the 100 burgers, almost one-third (28 %) don’t feature cheese of any variety. This is in contrast to Americana’s earlier research into consumer burger preferences which highlights that cheese, specifically cheddar cheese, is one of the most popular burger ingredients as voted for by 66% of British burger consumers 

This gap between consumer demand and operator provision is also reflected in the nation’s second favourite burger ingredient, bacon. 43% of burger fans say it’s a main element of Britain’s Best Burger,6 yet Americana reveals that just 13% of operators include it in their fillings selection. 42% of operators are also missing the mark when it comes to the burger bun. 67% of consumers say that they would be disappointed if their burger was not served in a gourmet bun7 yet almost half of operators use a standard bun.  

Samantha Winsor, Marketing Manager at Americana, comments: “As consumers, we eat with our eyes and there is something so satisfying about being served a great looking burger. With over two-thirds of the burger being made up of the bun, it forms a visual quality indicator at the initial stage of the burger experience. It is too often overlooked to the detriment of the overall meal, yet is a quick win for operators to upgrade and improve on their burger menu.”  

“There is no questioning the importance of quality fillings, however we encourage operators to consider the quality of their bun too. We know that 92% of burger consumers feel it is important that the bun does not go soggy or fall apart8. Americana gourmet buns have a robust crumb structure to avoid this consumer disappointment – after all, no one likes a soggy bottom!”  

Go Gourmet to Boost Revenue 

In terms of price, the Americana Burgernomics research found that the average cost of a burger in the out of home market is £10.25. This starts at £7.01 for a classic fast food burger, £10.16 for an added value burger, and rises to £12.11 for a gourmet option. With consumers willing to pay £5.10 more for better quality, the revenue opportunity presented by gourmet burgers is clear. 

Size Matters 

Looking at the size data, there is an obvious link between burger height, burger quality and price point. The average height of an out of home burger is 65.30mm, with a gourmet burger measuring 12.79mm bigger than its classic fast food counterpart. It’s a difference that is reflected across every element of the burger. The base of a gourmet burger bun is 4.22mm bigger than a classic fast food version and for the lid there’s a 2.79mm difference.  

The bigger the burger, the more important the bun becomes. Over 71% of a gourmet burger is made up of the bun, 5% more than for a lesser quality added value burger. Analysing this against price, Americana found that burgers with a percentage of the bun being 68% or less had an average price tag of £9.80, while burgers that had a percentage of 69% or more averaged a price tag of £10.669 

Winsor continues: “The research clearly demonstrates the sales opportunity for outlets. Essentially, gourmet buns help to upgrade a burger’s quality perception, enabling operators to charge a premium for their product. A premium bun is a low-cost way to quickly increase the value of the burger. Operators have a real revenue driving opportunity to cater to individual consumer demands while keeping menus fresh and exciting.” 

Americana stocks the UK’s leading range of frozen fast food breads and burger buns. From classic buns, through to brioche and glazed buns, as well as grill-marked and kaiser-cut buns, all Americana buns are pre-sliced, fully baked and supplied frozen so they can be defrosted quickly and easily with minimal wastage. To find out more visit: www.americana.co.uk/products/all-products 

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Sam Allcock, a seasoned entrepreneur with over two decades of expertise in Food & Drink Editorial.

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