Building a better burger offer

WHILE some argue that the burger’s popularity has peaked, there’s no denying that it remains a versatile classic which, when executed correctly, can prove profitable for publicans, food firms told SLTN.

A quality bite: the ingredients which are utilised in a pub or restaurant’s burger offer is of the utmost importance, according to food firms.

Niall Deveney of drinks and foodservice wholesaler Dunns Food & Drinks, said the burger “has benefited from a number of factors aligning”, including a continued desire amongst consumers to eat out – but on a tighter budget – as well as the growing popularity of the street food concept.

“The other thing that has helped is the quality of the burgers,” explained Deveney.

“The approach from the new gourmet operators has led to a ‘best of’ kind approach, using great ingredients and improving the quality of the contents of the burger to the best it can be.

“The ease of premiumisation impacts on this too; even a gourmet burger is cheap to make and offers great margin opportunity.”

Echoing this view, Mark Teed, head of food at Star Pubs & Bars, said the burger “will always be a popular choice when it comes to pub menus”, which can prove to be a best-seller – so long as the quality of the contents is up to scratch.

“Quality ingredients are important because they hugely affect flavour, and flavour is what will bring customers back,” he said.

“Whilst the patty itself should pack good flavour, it’s also important to consider the quality of your toppings, for example, serving good quality cheese and bacon on top.”

Customisation is, Teed said, an easy way to offer broad choice and appeal to different tastes.

“Burgers are extremely versatile and customisation is a perfect way to expand your offer and appeal to a real range of customers.

“The burger patty is a brilliantly delicious platform to carry a plethora of tasty toppings, which can both complement and transform it.

“Global themes are a great way to create exciting burgers, especially with the current trend for trying new flavours.”

Reinforcing this stance, Shaune Hall, product development chef, Falcon Foodservice Equipment, said: “Whatever additions you put in to bind and flavour, make sure that they complement rather than overpower the burger.

“Only make what you need for that day.

“Give the customer a choice of toppings, bread roll and sides.”

There are, however, some trends which operators should be more wary of, according to food firms.

For example, questions have been raised in recent times regarding the safety of offering ‘rare’ burgers, which are served much like steak.

But while bacteria is only found on the outer surfaces of meat such as steak – therefore allowing it to be safely served ‘rare’ – experts have argued that as the meat is minced to form burgers, that bacteria could be found throughout – and therefore must be cooked all the way through to ensure it is safe to consume.

Deveney of Dunns Food & Drinks warned that the level of punishment if an operator is found to be in breach of food standards “can be severe and crippling”.

“Operators should pay attention to the advice of the Food Standards Authority and their Environmental Health Officer, and make sure they are not in breach of health and safety.”

Hall of Falcon Foodservice agreed, adding that licensees “should always adhere to legislation governing food safety and healthy eating”.