Burger trendwatch

The NPD Group, a market research company, polled 2000 consumers to learn about burger eating in casual restaurants.

What they found is that people prefer bigger burgers and those topped with cheese. When it comes to rolls, burger fans seem to be open to baguettes and other non-traditional breads as well as the usual buns.

Trend-tracking firm FoodWatch partnered with NPD to share additional burger insights:

  • Ketchup is still the #1 condiment, but popular flavor partners include Ranch, bacon and barbecue
  • Emerging flavors include orange, ginger, garlic and parsley
  • Flavors gaining awareness are cilantro and Caesar

"New flavors and toppings are a great way to make a menu staple like hamburgers fresh and exciting," comments Michele Schmal, VP foodservice for the NPD Group. "As casual dining operators explore ways to grow, it's good to remember that Americans love to try new twists on old favorites."

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A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

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Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

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Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

Managing Your Business
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Chris Studtmann, district executive chef at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., is cooking up a whole new program with the help of consumer analytics and feedback.

Q: How are you getting input?

A: We find that most students like more digital forms of replying, so we have a text and email format. We bring iPads from our marketing team into the dining halls and intercept students with quick five-question surveys. We also do the larger-scale National Association of College and University Food Services surveys.

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