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Fast & Fresh: CHD Expert Evaluates the Fast Food Restaurant Landscape of the USA

Consumer attitudes toward healthy eating are changing fast food menus across the nation and creating opportunities for new health-conscious operators.

(Chicago, IL – September 14, 2017) – Americans are always on the go. In a hectic world dotted with drive-thrus and prepackaged snacks, restaurant operators need a new way to draw diners in. Fast food has long been a popular choice for busy Americans, but what place does it have in a new foodservice landscape where consumers have begun to demand their food be both tasty and healthy? CHD Expert, a global leader in aggregating, analyzing, and managing foodservice data, evaluates chain operators and the fast food restaurant landscape of the United States to highlight how new consumer behaviors are creating new industry trends.

According to CHD Expert’s chain restaurant database, there are more than 266,700 chain operators in the United States. Among these, the top five Menu Types in terms of market share percentage are Hamburgers (15.77%), Sandwiches (15.4%), Pizzeria (11.94%), Coffee/Tea (8.31%), and Mexican (5.58%).

Some of the most popular chain restaurants exist within these menu types. The top five fast food chains in the U.S., in terms of market share percentage, are Subway (9.41%), McDonald’s (5.13%), Starbucks (4.24%), Dunkin’ Donuts (2.92%), and Burger King (2.43%). To download a list of the top 10 Fast Food Chain Restaurants, click here.

While these chains are household names, a few newcomers are making headlines within the fast food industry. Kogi founder Roy Choi launched the socially conscious fast food restaurant LocoL in Los Angeles in 2016 with the mission of providing healthy and sustainable food in underserved communities. The menus at LocoL lack the usual fast food fare (fries, soda, etc.) in favor of healthy chicken sandwiches, burgers, and bowls. One thing LocoL does have in common with traditional fast food restaurants that are classified within the “Quick Service” segment is budget-friendly pricing. Fast food restaurants often have check averages under $7.

The farm-to-table chain B.Good shares a similar mission of serving homemade and wholesome “real food” at its 45+ locations, including two international locations in Canada and Switzerland. Each B.Good location serves up seasonal veggies, salads, kale & grain bowls, and locally sourced burgers.

Restaurants operating with similar “clean food” mindsets are opening around the country, no doubt hoping to take advantage of consumers’ shifting attitudes and craving for high-quality, healthy meals without long wait times.

New operators aren’t the only ones taking advantage of changing customer behaviors. Big names like Walmart are also getting into the game. The big box giant has opened an outpost of the “farm-to-fork” organic fast food restaurant Grown at one of its store locations in Orlando, Florida. In a similar move, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has opened the subsidiary chain Holler & Dash Biscuit House to offer chef-inspired biscuit dishes featuring locally-sourced ingredients.

Combining the worlds of health food and fast food is likely to be a smart move for operators hoping to shore up the bottom line. Approximately 38 percent of fast food chain operators report annual sales of between $1 million and $2.5 million. An additional 32 percent have annual sales of $500K to $1 million and 19 percent report annual sales of $500K or less.

Fast food is also likely to be a long-term play for many operators, as 75 percent of chain operators have been in business for 5+ years, while 17 percent have been in business for between 2 and 5 years.

“Operators are proving that fast food doesn’t have to be unhealthy to be good or popular,” said Catherine Kearns, General Manager at CHD Expert The Americas. “Many fast food restaurants are on a mission to upgrade their ingredients and develop healthier menus in a bid to stay competitive. Suppliers that can provide top-quality products to these operators will find themselves right at home in this growing niche. CHD Expert is proud to offer the industry data and contact information that suppliers need to make meaningful connections with fast food operators and increase their profitability.”

To obtain detailed information on the foodservice industry landscape anywhere in the United States, or foodservice data in general, please contact [email protected].

About CHD North America
Data Ingredients. Growth Served. For over 20 years, CHD Expert has collected, analyzed, and managed foodservice and hospitality data to help businesses win in this fragmented and fast-moving industry. Our comprehensive and segmented data allows us to adapt our local and global insights to our clients’ objectives. From ideas to execution, we deliver actionable solutions that drive business growth.