Starting a few years ago, I brought two of my nerdy loves – data and food – together by looking at the donations being made to Feed Nova Scotia by restaurants in The Coast’s Halifax Burger Week. Back then it was a simple ranking of the top donators as a percentage of the burger price, but this year I’ve fleshed things out a bit more. I gathered data from previous years’ burger passports and editions of The Coast to see the trends since the start of Burger Week back in 2013 (sadly, 2014’s donation data was not available).
While Burger Week’s popularity has exploded to the point that well over 100 restaurants are now taking part in the event (though not all are Feed NS donators) and total donations have grown, the numbers on a per average restaurant basis are much less cheery.
At $1.63, the average donation per Feed NS burger in 2018 is now less than half what it was back in 2013 when Burger Week was new to Halifax, filling stomachs and thickened arteries for a relative handful of people. While we can see that the consistent downward trend seems to have hit a bottom, new entrants to Burger Week donations in 2018 have an even lower average donation of $1.35, which doesn’t bode well for the future. As well, while only 10 restaurants increased their donation percentages since last year, 17 decreased.
And I know you data nerds out there are saying, “But these nominal values mean nothing, what about the percentages?!”. Don’t you worry, baby birds, I’ve got things covered with another graph to regurgitate for you.
The average donation as a percentage of burger price has trended almost perfectly in line with the drop in average donation, with a slightly steeper drop in the early years due to an increase in burger prices. It did increase by a mere tenth of one percent in 2018 vs 2017, but this was entirely because of a $0.23 decrease in the average price for a Feed NS burger.
The average price for a burger has been surprisingly stable in the past four years, ranging from a high of $13.28 in 2015 to a low of $12.98 this year. That this has been so flat despite inflation in food, wages and goods and services in general, is surprising. It could be that restaurants are hesitant to break through a price ceiling and potentially lose customers, and are instead trimming their donated amounts, but that’s purely conjecture on my part.
As for the best and worst of donators, it’s worth taking them with a grain of salt. Different types of burgers have different input costs, and different restaurants have different cost structures as well. That being said, both sides of the coin deserve the bright light of day.
Top donators as a percentage of burger price:
1. The Old Triangle @ 33.33%
2. Freeman’s @ 31.27%
3. Four-way tie @ 25% – Gio, Chives, La Frasca and Bicycle Thief
Worst donators as a percentage of burger price:
1. The Stubborn Goat @ 5.56%
2. Antojo Tacos+ Tequila @ 5.88%
3. Three-way tie @ 6.25% – Durty Nelly’s, The Watch That Ends the Night, Gahan House, and Barrington Steakhouse
Largest percentage increases year-over-year in donations as a percentage of burger price:
1. Chives @ 350%
2. Black Sheep @ 300%
3. Harbourstone Sea Grill @ 128.6%
Largest percentage decreases year-over-year in donations as a percentage of burger price:
1. enVie @ -66.7%
2. The Butcher’s Block @ -51.6%
3. Tie @ -50% – Barrington Steakhouse and Elements on Hollis
I think what The Coast and Burger Week participants donating to Feed Nova Scotia are doing is a great thing, bringing attention to Halifax’s thriving food scene and raising money for a charity at the same time. However, that doesn’t mean that a better job can’t be done. Donations could be higher, especially since they’re a tax write off for businesses, and The Coast could make it mandatory that ALL Burger Week participants donate at least one dollar per burger to Feed Nova Scotia. Is your average Burger Week gorger going to not show up because their $6 burger now costs $7? No.
With this information out there, it’s up to individual consumers and businesses to choose how they react. Choose wisely.
All the data used is available here
Murray Wong is a Nova Scotian expat living in Ottawa. You can find this same data in a more shareable form on Twitter @murraywong and check out @EatThisTownOtt for the coming Ottawa branch of Halifax’s favourite food blog, Eat This Town. You’ll soon find him chasing down the best food trucks, Chinese food, and Halifax-style donairs in the nation’s capital, and waxing nostalgic about Pictou County pizza.