June 20/New York/Press Release -- With the good weather and first day of summer, it is safe to say that barbecue season is in full swing. However, while grilling favorites like chicken and burgers are often eaten year round, it seems dogs might only be a summer staple. According to recent Mintel research, almost a quarter (23%) of consumers only think of eating hot dogs during the grilling season.

"While hot dog brands enjoy healthy sales during the height of the summer grilling frenzy, they must do more to encourage consumption of hot dogs for a range of meal occasions, regardless of season,” notes John N. Frank, category manager, CPG food and drink. “Providing recipe ideas for hot dog dishes could help promote their use for a broader range of occasions.”

It seems recipes might be key for future growth in the category, as 12% of survey respondents said they would eat more hot dogs if they knew recipes that used the summer treats. As it stands, the most popular way consumers who eat hot dogs, frankfurters or sausages prepare them is grilled in a bun, with 88% reporting as much.

In addition to consumer education about alternative preparation techniques, Mintel research found that consumers might be deterred for health reasons, as 26% of Americans would eat more hot dogs if they were lower in sodium. Meanwhile, 15% say they are too processed and 33% would more hot dogs if they were more nutritious.

“More than half of those who are eating more/about the same amount of hot dogs and sausages compared to a year ago agree that they are trying to eat healthier these days,” adds John N. Frank. “This indicates that low-fat and BFY products will likely appeal to a majority of users. Few of the leading brands are marketing low-sodium hot dogs, indicating a niche that could help boost sales.”