Burger consumption is soaring as recession-hit shoppers turn to affordable foods - and sales are set to get a further boost as the weather gets warmer.

British consumers ate 10% more burgers and grills in the year to February 2009, the latest TNS data has revealed. Value sales were up 11.3% to £422m and volume sales rose 6.6% to 96,800 tonnes.

Price was key to the strong consumption and sales growth, said TNS analyst Jodie Harris, with existing shoppers buying burgers more frequently and new shoppers coming into the category.

Although men predictably remained the biggest consumers, accounting for 40% of consumption, children were increasingly important, with 26%. Notably, children aged six to 16 ate burgers on 22% more occasions than they had done the year before.

Only older consumers aged over 65 had reduced their burger consumption in the past year, by 9%.

"As consumers strive to contain their food shopping bills, burgers and grills are a cheaper but enjoyable family meal," said Richard Cullen, category development manager for the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board. "A much warmer summer is forecast, which should see a revival in the BBQ occasion after two years in the doldrums."

Enjoyment remained the key driver for burger consumption, according to TNS. Some 23% of shoppers ate them because they were a 'favourite', and 19% because they 'fancied a change'. A further 16% chose them as they were quick to cook and 10% saw them as a treat.

The popularity of home cooking had also boosted burger consumption, according to one supplier.

"There's been a huge drive behind fresh mincemeat and you can do a huge amount with a kilo of meat," he said. "And there's been an explosion in sales of burgers at the retail end because it's a product with a cheap unit price."

There had also been a rise in sales of burgers in the foodservice sector, the supplier added.