Fire Up the Grill
By Jessica Royer Ocken & Matthew M. F. Miller, CTW Features
With more and more people firing up the flames and investing in the latest grilling gadgetry, this barbecue season is heating up to be the biggest one yet.
“It’s more fun to cook outside than inside,” says Leslie Wheeler, communications director for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), Arlington, Va. “Cooking outdoors and entertaining outdoors is more casual, and lifestyles are more casual these days. Shorts and flip flops outside are more appealing than being in kitchen.”
Continuing a steady expansion that can be traced back at least 10 years, 30 percent of grill owners report owning at least two grills, according to the 27th Annual Weber GrillWatch Survey. The Fourth of July is the most popular grilling holiday, with 87 percent of grill owners firing up the grill that day, followed by Memorial Day (75 percent), Labor Day (74 percent), Father’s Day (55 percent) and Mother’s Day (45 percent).
Grilling accessories remain, well, hot. Wheeler attributes this to the broader range of foods backyard chefs are preparing. “People are cooking more than just burgers and hot dogs,” she says. “Cooks are more creative now. They’re doing fish, vegetables and there’s even a pizza stone for the grill.”
So, the plan for this season? Fabulous, flavorful meals, made right out back, all summer long.
Besides taste, another benefit to cooking on the grill is reducing oil or fat. “People seem to feel comfortable that food cooked outside is healthy and good for you,” says HPBA director of market research, Don Johnson.
Grilling menu options for skewers run the gamut from lamb, pork and chicken to a deluxe veggie medley. Flexible grilling skewers made from stainless steel, bend easily without breaking, which makes marinating in a bowl possible. Good news for the hungry, too: they hold nearly twice as much food as the traditional skewer.
While the merits of gas versus charcoal will be debated for years to come, the Weber Grill study found that for special occasions, gas takes the crown over charcoal (39 percent to 35 percent). Additionally, 46 percent of grill owners that own both a gas and a charcoal grill prefer using their charcoal grill during the weekends (46 percent) as opposed to their gas grill (31 percent).
“Today, people want the freedom and flexibility to grill anytime – whether it’s during a busy work week, when gas is often more convenient, or on a weekend, when there’s more time to tend the coals and fire up their charcoal grill,” says Melissa Enos, vice president, Americas Marketing, Weber-Stephen Products LLC.
So how big has grilling gotten? The following highlights from the HPBA 2017 State of the Barbeque Industry show that Americans are firing up the grill (or smoker!) at a hot pace:
- Seven in 10 U.S. adults own a grill or smoker.
- 35 percent of U.S. adults plan to purchase a new grill or smoker in the coming year.
- Gas grills are the most popular (64 percent), followed by charcoal (44 percent) and electric (9 percent).
- 1 in 10 consumers is interested in adding fireplaces and heaters to outdoor kitchens.
- Of all grills purchased last year, 56 percent were purchased as replacements, while 29 percent were first time purchases.
- Eighty-three percent of grillers report having three or more accessories, which indicates consumers have invested in ways to customize their grilling experiences.
© CTW Features