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Burgers and beyond: how strong is America’s love for beef?

According to findings from our recent report, BrandVue’s Most Loved Eating Out Brands US 2022, McDonald’s has replaced the hugely popular In-N-Out Burger as America’s most loved burger brand.

Ed Provost Director, Research Manager 30/11/2022
There’s strong love for beef brands in general with steak specialists Texas Roadhouse claiming 3rd place, up 1 from last year.

West coast favorite In-N-Out, which recently added Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to its legions of fans, was the 5th most loved Eating Out brand last year. Now the mighty McDonald’s holds that spot, capping an impressive rise for the golden-arched brand – 10 places from 2019 and 3 since 2021.

Many say McDonald’s adapted well to rapidly changing circumstances during the worst days of COVID-19. Close to 95% of its restaurants have drive-thrus, meaning it was well-placed to offer a low-contact, safe service during the pandemic.

To reduce contact even further, McDonald’s made its drive-thru service faster. Conveniently, the brand had also been ramping up its delivery capabilities tenfold since 2016, in the US and beyond.

Other burger brands have also enjoyed more love this year with several climbing the list since 2021, including #14Wendy’s (+4), #27 Whataburger (+11), #43 Sonic Drive-In (+3) and #92 White Castle (+6). From big cities to rural areas, everyone can get their fill – Culver’s and Freddy’s have grown recently across Midwest small towns.

There’s strong love for beef brands in general with steak specialists Texas Roadhouse claiming 3rd place, up 1 from last year. Outback Steakhouse (17th) has risen 8 places and LongHorn Steakhouse (25th) is up 3.

However, long term, how much beef growth potential is there in the US? Chicken consumption is increasing, in contrast to beef. It’s also possible that climate change concerns could impact beef brands more than any other.

Many burger brands have been proactively rolling with the times – McDonald’s trialed plant-based Beyond Meat products this year. The McPlant experiment was quietly shelved after a few months though, due to low customer demand.

That suggests America’s bond with beef won’t be broken anytime soon. Just like fried chicken, beef burgers are a timeless US staple – for moments of celebration but also times of comfort.

With food prices seeing their highest annual increases since 1979, after a grueling couple of years perhaps Americans are going back to basics. They’re turning to the comfort food they know best. All the burger chains mentioned above are top choices because they’re accessible and affordable. McDonald’s has its infamous Dollar Menu, while other brands’ prices are wallet-friendly too.

Even if challenges remain on the horizon, the proven adaptability of burger brands like McDonald’s suggests they’ll keep the flame alive for their devoted customers.

Download the report here to find out the America’s Top 100 Most Loved Eating Out Brands, as well as insights on the future of the sector and how brands can stay relevant in the coming years.

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