Burger Consumption Rises, Shifts Toward Premium Varieties

07/07/2011 11:48 am ET | Updated Sep 06, 2011

Americans are eating more burgers and better burgers, according to a new report from food industry consulting firm Technomic. Half of Americans now eat burgers at least once a week--up from 38% in 2009. And many are squeezing more burgers even into non-meal times: 20% say they regularly eat a burger as a mid-afternoon snack, and 10% say they sometimes nosh on a late-nite burger.

The report also indicated that consumers are increasingly interested in new varieties of burger. It recommended that burger vendors try swapping out "standard ground beef" for Angus beef, turkey and vegetables to meet consumer demand for those sectors. Technomic also noted that Americans are becoming more open to "exotic" toppings and flavors: guacamole, chipotle, pineapple, herbs.

One factor that may be driving both these trends is consumers' willingness to pay more for their burgers. The surveyed burger-eaters put taste and convenience before price when they ranked the influential factors in their choice of burger. This bodes well for made-to-order burger chains like Shake Shack and Five Guys. Indeed, the survey noted that these sorts of restaurants are quickly gaining market share previously held by McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's.

The most surprising takeaway, though, may have been the overwhelming prevalence of burger consumption. Ninety-nine percent of consumers surveyed said they occasionally eat some kind of burger.