Burger market in 2014: Which state has the most burger joints?

The US burger market is a $73 billion business, according to foodservice industry analyst company CHD Expert. California has the most burger joints, while Washington has the highest share of independent burger restaurants. 

Reed Saxon/AP/File
The Hollywood sign near the top of Beachwood Canyon adjacent to Griffith Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. California has the most burger joints out in the US at 6,104.

Looking for a burger restaurant? You’ll have the best luck in California or Mississippi. California has the largest number of burger joints; 11.72 percent of all Mississippi restaurants are burger-menu spots, highest share in the US. And if you want an independent burger spot rather than a chain location, your best bet is Washington, where 26.61 percent of burger restaurants are indies, highest in the US.

Chicago-based CHD Expert—a global company specializing in collecting, managing and analyzing foodservice industry data—has shared with research that provides unique insight into the size and makeup (as of June 2014) of the US burger-menu-restaurant business. Among its findings:

The US burger market is a $73 billion business

  • The average annual unit sales for burger-menu restaurants is $1,488,448 according to its research.

CHD Expert categorizes more than 49,000 US restaurants as burger joints. Of them, 13.89 percent are independent and 86.11 percent are a part of a chain, which CHD defines as having 10 or more units.

  • There are roughly 1.6 burger restaurants for every 10,000 Americans.
  • “Burgers” is the fourth-most-popular menu type in the U.S. in terms of number of locations.

Burger joints account for 7.4 percent of all US restaurants nationally. In Mississippi, however, they represent of 11.72 percent of all the state’s restaurants.

  • The others among the top five in burger market share are New Mexico (11.62 percent of the state’s restaurants), Alabama (11.44 percent), Kentucky (11.36 percent) and Oklahoma (11.03 percent).
  • Washington has the highest percentage (26.61 percent) of independent burger locations.

    • Rounding out the top five for independents’ market share are California (26.32 percent independent); Alaska (25.68 percent); Hawaii (25.54 percent); and Washington, D.C. (22.62 percent).

    California has the highest number of burger restaurants (6,104; 26.32 percent independent).

    • The others among the top five are Texas (5,553; 19.9 percent); Florida (2,728; 11.66 percent); Ohio (1,850; 5.95 percent); and Illinois (1,846; 10.94 percent).

    McDonald’s, of course, is the largest chain, boasting a 34.3 percent share of the burger market.

    • Burger King is No. 2 according to CHD Expert’s data, with 15.4% of the market. It’s followed by Wendy’s (13.9 percent) and Sonic Drive-Ins (8.2 percent).

    About 8.7 percent of the total, or 4,250 burger restaurants, are classified as “fast casual” by CHD Expert. As it includes the upscale burger bars that have proliferated in the last decade, the fast-casual segment’s share of independents (45.14 percent) is much larger than for the overall market (13.89 percent.)

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