Burgers go premium in Brazil

“Restaurants slinging premium, meat-focused burgers have popped up in Brazil, changing consumers' expectations for what a burger should be.”

Brazilian burgers have become gourmet

Burgers have long been a staple within the traditional lanchonetes – lunch spots – that can be found across Brazil, topped with a plethora of ingredients, from lettuce and tomato to eggs and corn.

Recently, the gourmet burger craze that has been sweeping the US and Europe over the past few years has come to Brazil, where fast casual restaurants like Cabana and Madero have turned the burger into a destination-worthy menu item by paying more attention to the quality of the meat within these burgers and dedicating restaurants to serving them.

Thanks to their exposure to the high-quality burgers available at these fast casuals, Brazilians will look at every other burger they consume with new eyes, creating an expectation of quality wherever consumers find their burgers.

Gourmet burgers have recently come to Brazil

"Always fresh"

Cabana Burger describes its products as "always fresh" and filled with high-quality ingredients. The restaurant also makes the ice cream for shakes and concretes in-house using seasonal fruits and other ingredients.

"Best burger in the world"

Madero's website explains that Chef Junior Durski traveled around the world to achieve his dream of creating the best cheeseburger in the world.

"Always fresh and juicy"

Bullguer's burgers are freshly ground, pressed, and smashed on a griddle, resulting in a juicy burger. The restaurant's logo describes how the burger shops are "experts in hand crafting."

Gourmet burgers focus on the meat

Brazil's new gourmet burgers have transformed the meat patty typically found in lanchonetes from something thin and basic to become the star of the sandwich.

At Madero, for example, burger patties are thick and juicy, while at Bullguer, the brand discusses at length on its website how the beef in its burgers is freshly ground, pressed into a patty, and smashed on a griddle, resulting in a juicy burger.

Wherever they eat burgers, consumers will expect the meat component to reflect the quality present in these gourmet burger spots – or may find those that do not focus on quality meat to be lacking. Fresh-ground meat, the use of specific cuts of beef, and emphasizing "fresh, never frozen" beef can help demonstrate premiumization of burger meat to Brazilian consumers.

Better burgers mean better accompaniments

At Brazil's new burger joints, high-quality meat has elevated the burger from a thin patty covered in toppings to a juicy, flavorful key element of the sandwich. But at premium burger restaurants, the same degree of attention paid to the meat is also paid to the elements that go along with the burger, including the cheese, bun, and toppings.

Some burger places, for example, promote how they bake their own buns in-house, and others call out the local sourcing of their lettuce, tomato, and other veg. In addition, some restaurants focus just as clearly on the rest of the menu items they sell; at Brazil's Cabana, for instance, the restaurant explains that the ice cream for its shakes is made in-house using seasonal fruits.

Consumers will expect all burgers to be high-quality, wherever they find them

While premium burgers originated at dedicated burger-focused fast casual restaurants, all restaurants can get in on this trend by putting their own versions of premium burgers on the menu.

Some restaurants in Brazil are already taking this path, with Outback creating a Festival of Burgers in 2017; it has since introduced three additional highly creative burger specials, including a dessert burger. The Madero brand, which operates burger-centric restaurants out of shipping containers and has helped drive this movement, also serves its award-winning cheeseburgers at its steakhouses alongside steak and sausage.

Whatever the restaurant type, burgers that appear on menu should reflect the quality and tastiness of the burgers consumers in Brazil can find at premium burger restaurants.

Retail products can help consumers bring the restaurant experience home

Brazilians are experiencing gourmet burgers at restaurants dedicated to the art of the burger, but these premium sandwiches can come with a premium price tag and require consumers to travel to the restaurants. Retail brands have an opportunity to get in on the burger craze by giving consumers an option to re-create their favorite burgers at home.

Some restaurants already package and sell their house condiments, such as US chain Byron's, which sells its hot sauce online. Manufacturers in Brazil can partner with restaurants to make their famous sauces, seasonings, and other key condiments available in store, making the burger experience more convenient for consumers.

The opportunity

Burgers in Brazil have become more premium by focusing on the quality of their meat. As a result, Brazilian consumers used to this rise in quality will expect all burgers and the elements that go with them – from the meat to the toppings to the condiments – to reflect these improvements, no matter where they find their burgers.