Tis the season of grilling. But what’s new when it comes to barbecue? Chef Curtis Dool, of Belmont Meats, a North American food service industry leader based in Toronto, has the summer’s barbecue trends.
Burgers are Boss According to recent statistics, 42 percent of consumers eat burgers at least once a week. Consumers eat an average of 3.7 burgers per month, even more than pizza, which consumers eat on average 3.2 times a month. “Burgers may be forever popular, but what is in the burgers is changing, with more blending of pork and beef. The pork is lower cost and helps to provide moisture and give a different bite to the burger,” says Curtis. He noted that what people are putting on their burgers is also new: “Unique and gourmet condiments are trending, such as fancy combinations of mustard, banana ketchup and kimchi, as well as spicy options such as sriracha and ghost peppers.”
Bacon is Big Bacon-wrapped fillet has been a standard for years, and has evolved to lower-cost bacon-wrapped sirloin and other cuts. “The popularity of carnival food has raised new interest in all things wrapped in bacon, from burgers and wieners to meat loaf, sausages and chicken tenders,” Curtis says.
Different Steaks With beef prices rising steadily since 2011, less common cuts of steak have become popular. More people are buying the terres major–or shoulder tender–which is similar in tenderness to beef sirloin, or the flat iron steak, another cut known for its tenderness, soft texture and generous marbling. Lamb is also rising in popularity. “Consumers are rediscovering things like lamb chops, shanks and lamb legs – all fantastic on the barbecue,” Curtis says.
Part-Time Carnivores A new category of consumer has emerged called the Flexetarian. These are people that opt to not eat any meat for two or three days every week, creating growing demand for veggie burgers that contain vegetables, ancient grains and beans or pulses.
Close to Home “Locally sourced is a high priority for most consumers,” Curtis says.
Hot, Hot, Hot In the retail market, trends continue toward the spicy, with Asian (particularly Korean) and Hispanic-based flavors gaining fans.
Content Matters Consumers are making conscious sourcing decisions, looking for antibiotic-free beef, raised without added hormones. “People simply want to know what they are eating,” Chef Curtis explains. “Restaurant chains such as A&W and HERO have been very successful in not only educating their customers on what they are eating but also being at the forefront of a major trend in the ‘healthy halo’ category.”