Entrepreneur: Forget falling beef prices – burgers aren’t going anywhere. American restaurants served up 9 billion burgers in 2014, a 3 percent increase over the prior year, according to a recent study by food service researcher The NPD Group. The burger’s rise corresponded with a 2 percent decline in sandwiches. Grilled chicken sandwiches especially suffered, with restaurants and foodservice outlets serving 129 million fewer of them last year – a fall of 9 percent.
The success of the burger is especially impressive because foodservice traffic growth was flat for 2014. A major reason for the burger’s success: more burgers on the menus at restaurants that aren’t fast-food burger joints. While visits to quick-service hamburger restaurants such as McDonald’s or Burger King were down 3 percent, casual dining restaurants picked up the slack with more burger sales, catering to customers who increasingly pick burgers over more expensive beef entrées.
Billion with a B. Holy moly. Let’s break this down. There are approximately 322.6 million people living in the United States. Of that, about 7.3 million are vegetarians. Additionally, about 22.8 million Americans follow a “vegetarian-inclined” diet; this group is made up mostly of pescetarians, flexitarians, and pollotarians. Flexitarians are the only ones who sometimes eat red meat. So let’s say 1/3 of the 22.8 million are flexitarians, and given that they only sometimes eat red meat, let’s cut that in half. Final number from that little calculation approximates 3.8 million (do eat burgers). You can double check the numbers, and there are quite a few, but it’s safe to say the number of Americans who fall under the “eat red meat and therefore eat burgers unless they’re insane” demographic is about 296.3 million people. 9 billion burgers divided between 296.3 people equals about 30 burgers/person in a year, equals about one burger per person every 12 days or so. Did you get all that?
From a more personal perspective, I’m known to indulge in a double cheeseburger from time to time. Or if I’m feeling a big carb blowout, I’ll just have two separate burgers. Which means, by the numbers, I eat a pair of burgers once every 24 days. Wrong. Not even close. Burgers are as America as America gets. And the bacon cheeseburger is one of the greatest inventions this country has seen since sliced bread all those years ago. Given my findings, I’d put myself in the 40-50 burgers/year range, probably somewhere in the 80th percentile range.
And keep in mind that the data produced a total of 9 billion burgers served in restaurants. So we can assume that does not include burgers cooked at home from meat bought in supermarkets or butcher shops. So if you factor that in, I ate approximately 4,000 burgers last year. And if you really want to dig your nose into the details, all of my burgers were cheeseburgers. Most of the articles I read labeled this 9 billion as hamburgers, meaning no cheese. So I ate ZERO hamburgers last year.
I’m so proud to see my fellow Americans share my passion for the esteemed “burger”. Tailgates, BBQs, dinners, lunches, I can go on and on. Nothing brings people together like burgers (and beer). Eating a burger is an American tradition and pastime. These are the hard hitting numbers I like to see. Groundbreaking news, really. Check the sources, check the numbers, check the facts, but numbers don’t lie. Ball don’t lie either, just for the record.
PS – Mayo on a burger? No, just stop.