Rising beef prices pushing burger ingenuity

With rising beef costs expected to persist until 2017, restaurant operators may find opportunity in creating innovative burger offerings centered on unique, customizable add-ons, research company Technomic says.

By utilizing value beef cuts and incorporating non-beef proteins into burgers, operators can help lower their commodity costs and “broaden the range of needstates burgers can satisfy," says Sara Monnette, vice president at Technomic, noting that specialty ingredients like pretzel buns can boost consumers’ value perception.

Unique sauces and topping options, stuffed patties and premium sides can also increase craveability and enhance brand differentiation, she adds.

In addition, opportunities for customization can pique customer interest and up perceived value. Of consumers who eat burgers at least once a week, 61 percent say it’s important to them to be able to customize burger toppings and condiments, while 41 percent prefer burgers of the build-your-own variety, according to Technomic data.

Increasing beef costs continue to challenge concepts across all restaurant segments. Earlier this month, Texas Roadhouse conceded that higher beef prices cut into the casual-dining chain’s second-quarter profit, slashing net income 8 percent year over year.

To stay ahead of rising costs, Chipotle this week announced that it would be raising prices for menu items containing beef 4 to 6 percent nationwide.


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