(Re) Emerging trends: Burgers
In this article, Questia Group focuses on burgers. Our research was made through an online survey on our platform http://questia.ro covering 158 respondents. The survey was active between 23 and 25 May 2017. Our key findings are presented below.
Before actually digging into some data, some key aspects regarding burgers should be mentioned. Now, we all know that burgers aren’t just burgers, but also symbols regarding America, hipsters, obesity, industrialization, gourmet and many many others. How can food be an icon or a concept so culturally and socio-economically burdened? Truthfully, because the Burger has a long and complicated story. It seems that there are several myths tracing to the origins of the hamburger. Whatever one wants to imagine, it is clear that the hamburger industry today is by far greater than expected.
Even American presidents are burger fanatics. Here is an article about Obama’s love-story with cheeseburgers, in the Washington Post. The former US president had a habit of taking people out for burgers and fries. Another US restaurant created the “Trump” burger in Tokyo, using only "the most expensive and luxurious of ingredients that will set your wallet back 5,800 yen (US$51).
However, burgers weren’t so expensive when they first showed up. Their ‘mainstreaming’ is linked to the industrialization era, the emergence of the working class and the demand for mass production. Today, it is connected to the globalization of food (Inglis, 2009), together with pizza, sushi etc., stemming from the franchise of restaurant chains, like McDonald's, KFC, Burger King and so on. American sociologist George Ritzer wrote his famous book “The McDonaldization of Society” explaining how rationalization and scientific management adopted by fast-foods restaurants change the society we live in.
Moreover, burgers can stand as a guide to whether currencies are at their “correct” level. The ‘Big Mac index’ was invented by The Economist in 1986 and it is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalize the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a burger) in any two countries. For example, according to the site, the average price of a Big Mac in America in January 2017 was $5.06; in China, it was only $2.83 at market exchange rates. So, the "raw" Big Mac index says that the yuan was undervalued by 44% at that time.
Others talk about the ‘hipsterisation of the burger industry’ when referring to people seeking less mainstream fast-food options. Hence a burger gets to cost as much as a high-quality restaurant dish. If people have hybrid cars, one wonders, why can’t they hybrid eat? Imagine a burger with pastrami-stuffed bao, Mexican ramen, congee with Polish sausage, sushi burritos, and hummus. Here’s another trend to follow.
As for Romania, the food and drink sector is considered as the second largest one in Central and Eastern Europe after Poland in terms of consumer market potential. According to CEE Portal, the sector is one of the main contributors to the Romanian economy, totaling an annual turnover of 10 billion EUR. The total food and drink market in Romania was estimated at over 20 billion EUR.
(Central and Eastern Business Portal Infographic)
The food and drinking sector has been rapidly developing due to increasing demand, a recent VAT cut from 24% to 9%, as well as changes in consumer behavior and expectations caused by exposure to international foods. Added to this is Law 321/2009, known as the “Law on Supermarkets”, which obliges all retailer chains with an annual turnover higher than EUR2 million to ensure that 51% of all the products presented on their shelves in specific categories, such as meat, vegetables, fruits, milk, bread, honey, and eggs, are locally manufactured. These two major events have shaped sales of packaged food in Romania in 2016. See more here.
Burgers are not the top preference of the respondents: salads, pizza, and pasta are much more preferred than burgers and hot dogs.
Asked how frequently they eat burgers, respondents say that they eat them several times a week (34.5%), once a week (29.9%), 2-3 times a month (12.7%) and once a month (8.1%) or every 2-3 months (6.4%).
Fast-food chains like McDonalds and KFC are the top places where respondents eat burgers (84.2%), followed by cooking them at home (36.7%), at a restaurant/pub (27.8%) or from a van/at a festival (17.7%). Convenience, time-saving and the closeness to Western values seem to push people into enjoying burgers at food-chains.
Chicken and beef are the most preferred types of burgers (39.9%), while vegetarian burgers enjoy lesser awareness and likes (0.6%). Also, most respondents prefer their burgers medium cooked (70.3%), while only a quarter well-cooked (24.1%) and even less (4.4%) rare.
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