Made with familiar ingredients, blended burgers can appeal to all consumers.
Everyone knows about the Impossible Burger and other plant-based offerings making headlines across the restaurant industry, but the number of diners those menu offerings appeal to is something of a debate. The average diner—while more health conscious than ever—is still a carnivore and might not be overly eager to try plant-only, meat-replacement items.
Blended burgers offer chefs a solution. More environmentally friendly than a traditional burger and lower in calories, the blended burger can appeal to the new generation of diner without turning off those who simply want something wholesome and delicious.
To walk this tightrope, operators are “hiding nutrition in plain sight,” says Ben Carpenter, foodservice brand manager at Bush Brothers & Co. “A blended burger means a chef is not sacrificing flavor or an eating experience that all diners demand, and still delivering a product that is craveable and on-trend,” Carpenter says. “It doesn’t have to be an in-your-face, better-for-the-environment play, but it’s those things, too, and that can be played up based on who a brand is targeting.”
Bush’s Best recently added to its lineup a blended burger that incorporates exactly four ingredients: beef (60 percent of the burger), Great Northern beans (20 percent), mushrooms (20 percent), and salt. The burger is targeting flexitarians—but also, everyone.
“Blended burgers are popular because Americans love beef, and have always eaten it,” Carpenter says. “That makes blended burgers familiar and comfortable, but they are also an easy way for consumers to shift their eating habits. Blending takes a small adjustment in the way things are made, but it has a big effect.”
The big effect these burgers have is exhibited by data constructed recently by World Resources United, which estimates that if 30 percent of the beef in the 10 billion burgers consumed annually in the U.S. were replaced with plant-based matter, it would be akin to taking all of the cars in San Diego County off the road. Facts like this are sure to play well with the younger demographics that are increasingly making decisions based on environmental impact.
In the case of Bush’s Best Blended Burger, the beef is replaced with beans and mushrooms, which Carpenter says was a creative way to ensure equal or more protein when compared to a traditional patty. He says blended burgers, not imitation burgers, are the future of the beef-replacement trend.
“I really believe that the next wave of this blended burger movement is having transparent ingredients,” Carpenter says. “In that way, Bush’s Best Blended Burger is ahead of the curve because it has exactly four ingredients all diners already know: beef, Great Northern beans, mushrooms, and salt. If the macro trend is finding ways to be healthier in a natural, transparent way, we’ve done that with this product.”
For more information on the type of diners Bush’s Best Blended Burger appeals to, visit Bush's website.