KANSAS CITY - Grocery prepared foods sections have taken a big hit during COVID, but retailers and their supplier partners remain bullish on a growing category in the department: ready-to-eat burgers.

Burger patties from Meat District, a division of Vernon, Calif.-based Golden West Food Group, are a perfect fit for supermarket delis looking to ramp up their prepared foods burger programs.

Meat District offers 10 different varieties of butcher-crafted premium burger made from recipes created by the brand’s executive chefs, said Zack Levenson, Meat District’s COO. Patties are made from premium, whole muscle cuts of beef like angus short rib, tri-tip and chuck.

“We created Meat District’s portfolio of burger to appease every kind of burger lover,” Levenson said. “All of our burgers are seasoned to perfection and ready to cook.

When Meat District first went to market with premium, butcher-crafted burgers, the company wanted to focus on its backyard, California.

But with the viral success enjoyed by Meat District’s O.G. Burger just weeks after its release, the company decided to take its burgers to a wider audience, and today they can be found in several retail market chains across the country, Levenson said.

Top sellers, in addition to O.G., include Steak House, All American and The Pitmaster.

Meat District is always looking for ways to meet evolving consumer behavior, Levenson said. The brand works with its retailer partners one-on-one to customize Meat District offerings to meet their specific needs.

“Innovation day in and day out is in the fabric of our company, and we have worked together to bring some exciting new developments in 2021,” he said. “We have a series of new product and flavors that will be rolling out this summer.”

To complement its burger offerings, Meat District has branched out to include other favorites — everything from marinated chicken wings to tri-tip to its premium pork sausage line.

“We want to establish Meat District as more than a premium burger line and synonymous with grilling, barbecuing, family, tailgating.”

Whole Foods rolls out burger bar in New Jersey store

A new Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market in Wayne, N.J., features a burger bar in its prepared foods section.

The burger bar, called Market Burger, is unique to the Wayne store, said Chris Nguyen, culinary development chef for the chain's northeast region, according to a story on northjersey.com

The menu will include four types of burgers, two types of french fries, onion rings and appetizers: chicken tenders, coconut shrimp, mozzarella sticks and Caesar and house salads. Choices for milkshakes will include classic flavors and a vegan option, called the "Study Break Shake."

For those shopping on a tighter schedule, a prepared meals section will have grab-and-go pizza, quesadillas, sandwiches, sushi and a variety of casseroles.

Twentieth Wahlburgers at Hy-Vee opens

West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee Inc. has opened a Wahlburgers at a Hy-Vee in Columbia, Mo. — the 20th Wahlburgers to be located at one of the retailer’s stores.

The restaurant transitioned from a full-service Market Grille to become a casual, counter-service Wahlburgers.

The Columbia Wahlburgers will include most of the same menu options as the full-service Wahlburgers locations, featuring its signature burgers, home-style sides, house made condiments, salads, sandwiches, shakes and a full-service bar including beer, wine and cocktails. Customers can still order their Hy-Vee breakfast favorites daily from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., and the full menu is available to order online via Hy-Vee Mealtime to Go.

Chef Paul Wahlberg created the Wahlburgers franchise, along with brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, for friends and family to come together over delicious chef-inspired dishes served up in a casual, music-filled atmosphere. 

To date, Hy-Vee owns and operates six full-service Wahlburgers locations, and plans to open an additional 24 Wahlburgers at Hy-Vee locations across its eight-state region in 2021.