It’s a summer tradition, especially on Independence Day: barbecuing on the outdoor grill. Historically, cooking steaks, hot dogs, and hamburgers on a backyard grill has been a firmly established occurrence in America. Home-ownership would be much different today if it didn’t feature the deep-rooted hobby, that 75% of adults in the U.S. own a smoker or grill.
Grills are (and have been) here to stay, which is one answer to why sales of new-in-box hardware are only heating up modestly for North America’s grill and barbecue industry. The business, to put it simply, is mature.
Sales of grills in the U.S. are only increasing by a small percentage (in the single digits) every 12 months, and 10 years ago the market was almost 20% larger than it is today, according to the IBISWorld research firm.
Manufacturers of American grills would see better days if Weber-Stephen Products wasn’t the leader. The line of iconic Weber grills is also dealing with stiffly faced imported competitors, now making up 56% of sales in the U.S., previously 10% 10 years ago, shown by the data of IBISWorld.
Data from IBISWorld also shows Weber-Stephen leading the suppliers of U.S. grills in the market based on sales (measured by dollars, just over 30%). Taking 2nd place is Middleby Corporation. Their Viking and MagiKitch’n grills accounted for 16.6% of the pie. In December 2015, Lynx Grills Inc. was acquired by Middleby (constructs higher-end backyard cookers, with some activated by voice and topping 8 grand).
The market overall has grown slower than Weber has in the last several years, thanks to the company’s hardware reputation, positive logo recognition, steeper exports, and a healthier economy.
The numbers from Weber’s financial archive aren’t disclosed, yet IBISWorld estimated the privately held company’s sales of grills globally grew 10% on average every 12 months going back half a decade, to $235,000,000 in ’15.
They trace their roots to ’52 when Mr. Stephen Sr. was a Chicago employee. As makers of marine buoys, he took one of them, cut it in half, inventing a grill in the shape of a dome so the food would be protected by weather variables while keeping the BBQ flavor and smoke sealed in. Jump ahead to 1956 to see Weber newly designed, more similar then to the shape of the 2016 kettle grill.
Runner-Up to Weber? Char Broil
Weber’s grill lines currently include electric, charcoal, and gas units, not uncommon for some to cost a couple grand or more. The other guys in the picture, Char-Broil, sell the best among outdoor imported grills, although the models are Chinese made. That transition occurred in 2006. Before then, Georgia was the original site for Char-Broil production. Bradley Co. (the brand’s creator) gave a reason 10 years ago that the costs of production were ¼ cheaper in China.
Today, one of the changes key to an industry’s success is the ability to adapt to the desire of the consumer- BBQ a broader range of food, so additional accessories are being offered for BBQ grills, not including staples like hand mitts, tongs, and cleaning brushes.
Some of the add-ons new to the market have big popularity: grill woks, broiling or fish baskets, and pizza stones. Carrie deGuzman, Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s spokesperson, spoke how these items “really speak” in regards to the movement of food quality and the culinary adventure wanted by people.
As well, the chief marketing officer for Weber-Stephen, Kim Lefko, communicated how Weber’s “huge priority” is keeping up with trends and the wants of their customers.
Weber, for instance, introduced its recent portable line of Q1200 grills, which sat well with those in the 18-34 year old age bracket, (not entirely) because they’re suitable for tailgate parties and apartment balconies, noted from Lefko’s words. Also, the colors the Q1200 series comes in are youthful, which may shy away traditional black-and-silver grill jockeys, which include lime green, pink, and purple.
Still, the sales of BBQ grills should modestly continue to rise come 2017-19 as long as the economy’s growth continues and the consumer’s income (amount that’s disposable) is enough, Edward Rivera (analyst for IBISWorld) gave thought to.
BBQ profits are tied closely to the economic changes in America
The one industry this especially applies to? Housing. Unsurprisingly, grill businesses took a big hit during ’08-’10 when the ugly recession and housing crisis grasped the nation.
The industry recovered some since 2008 as the economy rebounded, as sales of U.S. grills climbed to nearly $1.45 billion in 2015, $0.23 billion more than 2009’s figures, noted from the IBISWorld findings. Sales were far above those in 2006, reaching almost $1.80 billion.
DeGuzman communicated how their trade group thinks they’ll see sales continue to be steady.
There’s no day more popular than July 4th for grilling outside. More than 75% of people who own a grill made plans to get their barbecues fired up on Independence Day, gathered by the HPBA. Those end-of-the-summer bookings, Labor Day and Memorial Day, were runner up (62% each).
Last summer, the group conducted a consumer survey, finding 37% of adults in the U.S. planned on buying a new smoker or grill in 2016. Of those purchased grills, 56% would serve as grill replacements.
And looking at the often debated charcoal vs gas comparison, gas wins. Charcoal grills were outsold by gas grills 40.1% to 57.7%. Electric grills were the remaining sold pieces (2.2%).
The generation of millennials- buyers 34 to 18 years old- are just as drawn to backyard cooking as their family was from years past. TV cook programs like “BBQ Pitmasters” is partly to blame for this trend, observed by Grilling With Rich’s (BBQ site) founder Richard Wachtel. He spoke how those BBQ techniques are looking to be brought home by people.