Fast food represents one of the world’s most trending food types. It currently accounts for more than half of the revenue generated by all types of restaurants in developed countries. However, the fast food market is observing some of its most rapid growth in the developing world where fast food has been bringing radical changes to the way people eat.
People buy fast food because it is cheap, easily prepared, quickly served, and is heavily promoted. Fast food is convenient for filling up when on the run and occasional indulgence should not be a big issue. But high calorie, fat and sodium content, coupled with low nutritional value of most fast food varieties can lead to many health issues when regularly consumed.
Defining the fast food market
The fast food market can be defined upon the basis of sale of food and drinks that can be immediately consumed either on the premises or in areas shared with other food service operators, or elsewhere. The market can be broken down into two major categories: Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) and street and mobile vendors.
The global fast food originated in the North American and the European continents in the real terms. These regions also currently lead the global fast food market in terms of revenue shares. However, the market has observed a shift of choice of this consumer base towards healthier and organic varieties of fast food.
These consumers seem more concerned about the ingredients used in their fast foods, and the demand for organic vegetables, hormone free meat, unprocessed cheese, and an overall environment of transparency in operations at the food manufacturing chains is on rise.
Consumers in the developing nations are quite a bit more concerned about prices, offers and proximity of the food being served.
The global fast food market generated approximately 477.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2013. By 2018, this market is forecasted to exceed 617.1 billion U.S. dollars. Currently, nearly 10 million workers are employed in the fast food market in the world. In U.S. alone, the fast food market is worth nearly 185 billion U.S. dollars, and employs more than 4 million workers as of now. In 2013, there were more than 230,000 fast-food establishments in the U.S.
The ever-growing global fast-food market has produced a number of international brands. McDonald’s, probably the most well-known, and by far the most valuable fast food brand in the world, currently has a brand value of nearly 86 billion U.S. dollars. The other three top global players are also based in the U.S. (Yum! Brands, Burger king, and Doctor’s Associates).
The global fast food market is filled with a lot of positive outlook and optimism. Major regional and international players have revised their target upwards in the time to come. Major international brands are targeting developing nations where the growth potential is high and market proliferation easy. McDonald’s for its part has built 20-30 stores in most developing countries in the past few years.
Factors such as rising trend of eating out, spending on ready-to-eat food, and vast expansion of the fast food market in developing countries are propelling growth of the global fast food industry. Longer working hours leave hardly enough time for home cooking, coupled with the rising desire of exploring new concepts of fast food will continue to allow innovative fast food chains to prosper.
A negative aspect of the enormous and continuously rising popularity of fast food market is the changing habits of eating, which some health experts suggest is leading to an unhealthy lifestyle. However, smart fast food chains are becoming aware of the situation and have already started offering healthier options.