Breaking down the burger: ‘It’s all about the bun,’ say UK consumers

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Lantmännen Unibake has released results on its survey to find out how the bun impacts a consumer's burger experience. Pic: Lantmännen Unibake
Lantmännen Unibake has released results on its survey to find out how the bun impacts a consumer's burger experience. Pic: Lantmännen Unibake
Lantmännen Unibake teamed up with Simon Dukes, aka blogger Burger Lad, to analyse the UK burger market to map out consumer and trade attitudes towards burgers and buns.

“It requires a certain kind of mind to see beauty in a hamburger bun,”

Survey highlights

  • On average, 69% of a burger is bun, showing the importance of serving a high quality bun.
  • 84% of consumers said a quality bun is a key characteristic of a gourmet burger.
  • Brioche buns are a popular choice.
  • 71% of UK pubs and restaurants claim they serve gourmet buns.
  • Consumers, on average, are willing to pay up to £1.25 ($1.75) more for their burger to come in a gourmet bun.

wrote US burger franchise creator Ray Kroc in his biography ‘Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's’.

“Yet, is it any more unusual to find grace in the texture and softly carved silhouette of a bun than to reflect lovingly on the hackles of a fishing fly? Or the arrangements and textures on a butterfly's wing?”

His insights certainly were prophetic in light of Lantmännen Unibake/Burger Lad’s study results that showed UK consumers consider the bun to be the most important part of a burger.

Key ingredient

“When it comes to burgers, the bun is the key ingredient,”​ said Samantha Winsor, assistant brand manager of Lantmännen Unibake’s Americana brand, which encompasses a range of fast food breads, including Gourmet and Classic Burger Buns.

“The bun is the first thing you notice when you go to eat your burger, and it says a lot about the type of burger you are eating,” ​added Dukes, who hosts the industry-recognized number one burger review website in the UK, Burger Lad.

A run on buns

In conjunction with the consumer surveys, focus groups and interviews with decision makers in the hospitality industry, Burger Lad sourced over 100 burgers from a range of different outlets – including fast food, premiumized and high-end burgers.

These were measured to establish the burger’s filling-to-bun ratio.

Research found that, on average, 69% of the burger is made up of the bun, making it an integral part of every burger meal.


“Despite the vast difference in the burgers and the price points charged, the percentage of the burger-to-bun ratio was relatively even, from fast-food to gourmet,”​ said Dukes, noting brioche stood out as the bun of choice for premium options.

“The majority of the cheaper, fast food options we saw had a flatter, smaller, sesame seed bun. Not very exciting, but it does the job at the lower end of the burger scale.”

Further research found 84% of consumers said a high-quality bun is a key characteristic of a gourmet burger, and most were even willing to pay up to £1.25 more for a burger in a gourmet bun.

“Consumer expectations towards premiumzation have shifted over the last three years, with more quality options being expected wherever customers are eating or drinking out,”​ said Wilson.

According to the research, 71% of pubs and restaurants in the UK said they are already following consumer demand and serving gourmet buns.

“Operators who aren’t doing this are falling behind on what our research shows is now expected of a quality burger offer,”​ said Winsor.

“This campaign provides further proof that operators need to do all they can to make their burger offering stand out in a hugely competitive market,”​ added Dukes.

Lantmännen Unibake – part of the Lantmännen Group owned by 27,000 Swedish farmers – produces 585,000 tons of bakery products a year.

The company has 35 bakeries worldwide and is present in more than 20 countries. 

Lantmännen Unibake UK’s product portfolio consists of Schulstad Bakery Solutions – including ReadyGlazed Danish pastries, viennoiserie, French breads and sweet treats – and Americana pre-sliced, fully baked and frozen premium and classic burger buns, baps and hot dog rolls.

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