July 4th favorites: Hot dog and hamburger economics

The burger market is worth far more than the hot dog industry -- partly because of its ingredients

Imagine a typical Fourth of July barbecue, and it's not hard to smell the scent of charcoal smoke, hear the scintillating sizzles from the grill and picture the hot dogs and hamburgers at center stage.

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Statistics help explain the phenomena: Around 150 million hot dogs are consumed on the holiday, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council – and that’s not including the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island.

Meanwhile, USA Today estimates that Americans eat about 375 million burgers.

Beyond the national holiday, an estimated 20 billion hot dogs are consumed every year. Price tag: $6.2 billion in 2019, when including sausages, according to the council.

Conversely, Americans consumed 2.4 burgers per day on average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is equivalent to about 50 billion burgers per year.

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Not only does that eclipse consumption of and spending on hot dogs,  restaurants dedicated to the sandwich have a market size of $130.1 billion in the U.S. as of this year, according to market research from IBISWorld.

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The same firm estimates that hot dog and sausage production in the U.S. has a combined market value of $16.1 billion in 2020, which represents a 2.1 percent contraction from last year.

One reason for the dollar gap may be the ingredients used in each product: Hot dogs are typically made from beef or pork trimmings while hamburgers are typically made from 100 percent beef unless stated otherwise. The latter tends to be more expensive.

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