Now, more than ever, consumers are paying attention to what goes into their food. Public scrutiny is intensifying over additives and their impact on health. Consumers are turning to “health-halo” labels like organic, all-natural and sustainable to feel good about what they eat. In fact, research from Technomic’s 2015 Canadian Burger Consumer Trend Report reveals that consumers consider many health-halo labels to be an indicator of premium burgers.
Though fast-casual restaurants have generally pioneered the use of health-halo claims among limited-service restaurants, quick-service burger chains can take advantage of this growing consumer interest. With beef prices expected to continue climbing and the fast-casual burger restaurant segment still emerging, fast-food burger restaurants may find that health-halo labels can give them a competitive edge in enhancing their burgers’ quality perceptions. Research shows that consumers particularly prioritize additive-free labels for burgers, with the majority saying steroid- (60%), hormone- (59%) and antibiotic-free (57%) beef patties are very important. Additionally, at least a third of consumers are more likely to buy and willing to pay more for burgers that are preservative-free.
Some burger chains have already responded to consumers’ demands.
Hero Certified Burgers, one of the fastest growing fast-casual burger chains, offers burgers with beef patties containing no additives or preservatives, from cattle raised with hormones or antibiotics because “it tastes better, and it’s better for you.” South St. Burger Co., another fast growing fast-casual burger chain also offers preservative- and filler-free patties, made from beef raised without antibiotics or hormones because they believe “better beef really does make better burgers.”
In the fast-food segment, A&W began offering burgers using beef without added hormones or steroids in late 2013. And it’s worth noting that A&W’s sales grew 4.3% between 2013 and 2015, faster than the overall burger industry in the same period (1.5%). Other fast-food burger chains may also find additive-free burger claims to be key in competing with the growing fast-casual burger segment.