Burgers are one of the fastest growing foods in the UK and they allow fish and chip shops to tap into some key trends
The UK burger bar market was estimated to be worth £3.28bn last year, up 22% from £2.7bn in 2011.
For fish and chip shop operators, burgers can be a very appealing addition to the menu; they fit with the fast food offering of being quick and easy to prepare, they can be eaten on-the-go and, whether you choose fresh, frozen, butchers-made or homemade, burgers can be cooked in a variety of ways to suit the skill set and equipment of each individual shop.
What’s more, burgers are a great way to capture those all important millennials we keep hearing so much about, as it’s consumers aged 18-24 who are reported to be the biggest group of customers pushing the burger trend.
One of the most affordable routes into the burger market is with a frozen product, like those available from Big Al’s. Its Flame Cooked 4oz Beef Burgers, for example, cook from frozen in less than two minutes and require only a microwave. Opting for a frozen option has the added advantage of keeping wastage to an absolute minimum while being able to deal with unexpected surges all while guaranteeing consistency.
With the trend at the moment leaning towards gourmet food, some operators are looking at offering a more premium option in the form of butchers-made burgers or even homemade. But whatever option you choose, every burger has the scope to be customised, thereby meeting the growing trend towards personalisation while also maximising profit margins by allowing you to upsell on additional toppings.
It’s a trend noticed by Gordon Lauder, managing director of frozen food supplier Central Foods, who comments: “You can pimp up a burger or similar item in a range of ways. Try adding a portion of mac ‘n’ cheese on top of the burger for maximum wow factor and visual appeal, or pretzels or nachos for extra crunch and texture, or a grilled pineapple ring topped with caramelised onions for a sweet/savoury flavour explosion.”
“There are also different cheeses, such as feta, manchego, Parmesan or blue cheese, that could be used, or different sauces, such as bacon marmalade, houmous, satay or even jam or honey, which tap into another 2017 trend, the popularity of sweet flavours for savoury foods. Another idea for gourmet fast food products like burgers is to add different vegetables or salad, such as avocado, red cabbage slaw, spinach or sweetcorn.”
Combining gourmet burgers with customisation is an approach taken by Mathew Williams at The Crispy Cod in Gelli, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Wales. Here, burgers are made on the premises to a recipe Mathew created himself using a unique blend of spices and locally sourced Welsh steak mince.
Serving his burgers in a brioche bun - a must-have in Mathew’s eyes if you are selling a premium burger - customers have the option of two toppings for £6.50. Mathew comments: “Customers can choose between homemade pulled pork, onion rings, streaky bacon and cheese, but we also offer an extra two toppings for an additional £1. We also give customers the option to double up on the burger for £2. If I sell an extra 50 of those a week, that’s £5,000 a year, so these are great upsells for us.”
Since introducing burgers, Mathew’s also noticed new customers coming into the shop. He adds: “The clientele for fish and chips in my area I would say is 40 plus. I wanted to widen that so I target everyone from five years old up to 70 and I’ve found offering burgers helps wrap that all up.”
A step up
With customers more discerning now about what they eat, Chris Withey of Double A Kebab believes people want a burger that is a step up from what they were buying a few years ago and feels his Keburger, a beef burger flavoured with kebab spices, is the answer.
“I think that, since the burger has become a food trend again, people want something a little different,” Chris says. “Be it a handmade Wagu burger in a brioche bun with Patagonian Yak cheese at £25 or just something at the fast food level to stand out from the regular burger.”
He adds: “If your menu is suffering from a need for a refresh, to add some non-traditional flavours, it’s an easy fix. Most people secretly love a kebab. The Keburger is a more socially acceptable way to eat a kebab than stumbling down the street with both hands on a pitta.”
To encourage sales, Chris says the secret is sampling and tailoring how you promote a burger. He adds: “With the Keburger, you can dress it up or down to suit your clientele. One of our customers in the gastro pub trade in the north serves two Keburgers in a single brioche bun, with a salad and a little pot of garlic mayo on the side, calls it a Mediterranean Burger and serves it with a small tumbler of chips for £9.50.”
Another big food trend that burgers allow fish and chip shops to capitalise on is gluten-free. Coeliac UK estimates there are now over 1.3 million Britons follow a gluten-free diet, while an additional 8.58 million are avoiding it. With a recent Mintel report stating that 14% of fast food consumers would like to see more gluten-free burger choices, it’s hardly surprising that Central Foods is seeing an increase in demand for these items.
Gordon adds: “Gluten-free beef burgers are something that caterers and operators should definitely have to hand if they want to keep customers happy. The gluten-free burgers we supply are also milk and egg free, meaning they are ideal for anyone with allergies or intolerances to these major allergenic ingredients.”
And, of course, with burgers on the menu you can also cater for the increasing number of vegetarians and vegans. “It’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing,” adds Gordon. “Our KaterVeg! Spicy Beanburger is really popular as a fast food item, and has the added benefit of being vegan and Halal approved, which means it appeals to a wide variety of customers.”
GO GASTRO WITH BLAKEMANS' SAUSAGES
For fish and chip shops looking to add high quality meat options to their menu, Blakemans offers the Gastro Range.
Including a pork sausage as well as a pork and herb variety, an onion & sage stuffing ball and a gourmet hot dog, they are supplied in 1kg polybags with 10 bags to a carton. Complementing the Gastro range is an Italian Style Meatball and a Sausage Whirl.
Blakemans 01782 569610 www.blakemans.co.uk