Market insight: Burgers and Brexit

Burgers are the UK’s favourite takeaway… but Brexit could spell trouble, according to Foodhub...

New data from Foodhub has revealed that the humble burger has seen off the traditional favourites, Chinese, Indian and pizza, to be named the UK’s favourite order. The online food delivery company has revealed 49% of its orders in 2020 were in the burger category and that the same option has so far accounted for 45% of purchases in 2021.

However, the news signals a concern to thousands of takeaway owners across the country, who are worried that they will not be able to cope with demand due to supply issues and the rising costs of ingredients. Traders say that following the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) on 31st January 2021, the prices of flour, chips, chicken, cheese and other ingredients have sky-rocketed, which has left takeaway bosses begging the question, what’s a burger without cheese and fries?

In light of Foodhub’s recent findings and the realisation that burgers have become crucial to the industry, the issue of rising costs is especially concerning. Many are fearful the development and supply issues could result in a burger shortage this autumn, which would signal a crushing blow to industry.

Business owners say they are usually given notice about industry-wide price increases, but the uncertainty of a deal/no deal Brexit put a huge level of anxiety on businesses, and before they knew it the prices of their essential items had increased. Now they don’t know whether they will be able to continue offering the fan-favourite dish. 

Their concerns were increased further when Nando’s recently shut around 50 restaurants because the chain was unable to get enough chicken to match demand.  This emphasises that even the biggest operators in the industry can be struck down. As things stand, takeaway owners are having to shell out even more on stock in order to satisfy customers – but they have warned that increased outgoings cannot go on forever.

Ardian Mula, Foodhub’s CEO, said: “We understand and appreciate how important burgers are to the industry, which is why we are so concerned by these reports. It’s a troubling situation for customers and business owners alike, with some in the unenviable position of having to pay more for ingredients or removing burgers from their menu. We hope to see this issue resolved as soon as possible.”

Phil Adams, who runs multiple takeaways in Stoke-On-Trent including Burger Bite, added: “Burgers are an integral part of our business model; in fact they are one of the most popular items we offer across our entire portfolio of takeaways. Sales have been shooting up over the past 18 months or so, with orders flying in for traditional offerings, as well as vegan and vegetarian options.

“It’s really exciting to see this development, but now we are concerned with the prices, which we can clearly see are going up and up. Since leaving the EU, the cost and availability of key ingredients has changed drastically. If we don’t get this under control, there is every chance we could see a burger famine later this year.”

Mula concluded: "The main problem was the lack of information we had prior to this, as it just made forward planning impossible. Now we are left in a position where we don’t know what we will do going forward.”

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