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Burger buyers want thicker patties and world peace

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(Read caption) This July 9 2015 photo shows the exterior of Burger King restaurant in Methuen, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Burger King

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Burger buyers’ shift from quick-service restaurants to “better burger” fast-casual restaurants continues, and what many are after is simply a thicker burger, according to the “Burger and Chicken Restaurants 2015 Report” from Mintel in the UK.

Mintel finds that 7% of British burger fans (meaning they have visited a QSR in the past three months) say they have switched to what Mintel calls “gourmet” burger restaurants (an overused, ill-defined term I don’t use) and what I call “better burger” concepts. The share of defectors rises to 12% among those ages 16 to 34.

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Fully half (52%) of these QSR burger customers say they would be interested in trying more upscale burgers from QSRs. What improvement are they most interested in? Thicker burger patties was the choice of 29% (and a higher percentage of the 16-34 cohort) while 28% said they’d be interested in meats other than beef. More toppings is the goal of 26%, but 24% are more concerned with the bun, which they would be interested in having be premium bread. One in five (19%) wants a bigger variety of sauce and dip options.

Mintel estimates the UK burger bar market will grow by 4.5% this year to sales of £3.2 billion ($4.9 billion). Between 2015 and 2020 Mintel sees 19% growth to £3.8 billion.

Says Richard Ford, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel: “The gourmet burger trend continues seemingly unabated, adding value and interest to the burger market. Gourmet burgers have prospered during the economic downturn through their status as an affordable meal that still offers indulgence. The ongoing expansion of ‘better burger’ restaurants continues to add value to the market by encouraging trading up. Offering thicker burgers and a greater range of patty meats should provide burger operators with opportunities to further entice customers and maintain their interest.”

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In other news, McDonald’s set Oct. 6, 2015, as the rollout date for introduction of all-day breakfast across the U.S.. It will be the just-10-items breakfast menu it began testing in April in San Diego. The October expansion had been tipped in July.

The end of October also will see the completed rollout of a casual-dining-style table-service option at all 1,250 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.K. Traditional counter and drive-thru ordering will continue. Digital ordering kiosks also will spread though the system and the menu will be reshaped yet again in October with a new line of wraps (barbecue, sweet chili, and hot Peri Peri chicken) and pulled pork. Other QSRS have offered pulled pork but the UK intro will be McDonald’s first.

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So Burger King is moving ahead with its Sept. 21 “Peace Burger” even if McDonald’s doesn’t play along, which was obvious since it already had packaging and uniforms and such prepared. Burger King is riding this PR pony as far as it can go.

Burger King has released a new “open letter” addressed not just to McDonald’s but also to every other chain that has tried to jump on the bandwagon and get in the game. “So Denny’s, Wayback Burgers Krystal and Giraffas, we’d like to build on your individual proposals to collaborate on Peace Day, Sept. 21, 2015,” the letter announces. “Our idea would be that we all come together to create a burger that combines a key ingredient from each of our signature sandwiches.” The result: the Peace Day Burger.

Not surprisingly, Burger King says it already is building a pop-up restaurant for Peace Day as the place for its “burger merger.”

This article originally appeared at Burger Business.