With nowhere left to economize, burger chains will become increasingly creative with buns, using everything from pretzel-style rolls, artisan-style buns and food dyes to sandwich their fillings, predicts a burger trendspotting site.
According to observers at BurgerBusiness, with restaurants trying to offset the rising cost of commodities like beef with chicken, the sandwich bun is the one area where companies can innovate on the cheap - reason enough to dub 2013 the 'Year of the Bun.'
In addition to providing a distraction from shrinking meat patties, playing with different sandwich bread alternatives can also appeal to different consumer needs like gluten-free options or flavor-added buns.
For example, Wendy's is looking at topping a Spicy Santa Fe Chicken sandwich with a cheddar-topped jalapeno bun, says Burger Business.
After McDonald's Germany released a pretzel bun burger earlier this year, dark, chewy pretzel-style breads could also appear more regularly in place of soft sesame seed buns, the site likewise predicts.
Also look out for novelty breads like black buns, a gimmick used by Belgian fast food chain Quick earlier this year with the launch in France of its 'Dark Vador Burger' (which draws its name from the French term for Star Wars character Darth Vader).
Similarly, Burger King Japan released a black bun burger to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the chain's return to the country, while McDonald's China unveiled a duo of burgers representing yin and yang, or good and evil in the fast food world.
The dark bun burger was spiced with black pepper sauce, while the chicken burger was topped with a regular white bun sprinkled with black sesame seeds.