The New Fast Food: How chains are responding to customer taste
The New Fast Food: How chains are responding to changing customer taste.
Fast food restaurants have become an inevitable part of our daily life. They not only offer us quick and delicious food, but are also easy on the wallet. You can satisfy your appetite by a burger or a slice of pizza in no time and fast food can taste amazingly well. But it is not only the taste or the quick preparation time that makes them so popular. Fast food restaurants are also low-cost, compared to other options available to us and hence it is of little surprise that they have gained so much popularity among the masses. In fact, 8 in 10 Americans eat fast food at least monthly, and 57 percent of young adults eat at a fast food restaurant at least once weekly.
But traditional fast food items have some adverse effects on our health as well. They are often very high in calories and fats, which can lead to medical complications in later life and they are also one of the major causes of the obesity epidemic in the United States. People are becoming more aware of this every day, and so they tend to veer towards foods, that are lower in fat and unnecessary calories. Does that mean the fast food era is about to end? Not at all. There has been a new concept in the restaurant market for quite some time now and the idea is gaining more and more popularity. The concept is called ‘Fast Casual’ restaurants.
What exactly is a fast casual restaurant?
The concept of Fast Casual is nothing new. Fast Casuals are basically a hybrid of normal restaurants and fast food joints. They offer food served quickly, but in a more professional manner, like the service you get in a ‘normal’ restaurant. In a fast casual restaurant, you would get all the traditional facilities that a restaurant offers and at the same time, you wouldn’t have to wait like you do in a restaurant, after ordering. The service is fast and you would be able to start eating within a few minutes of entering the restaurants.
The Concept Gains Popularity.
The ‘Fast Casual’ concept has been around for a while, but you were probably not aware of it. The idea is spreading, however, due to the low cost of the food, the fast service, and the healthier menu items. Numerous studies have shown that the traditional fast food, as we know it, contains many harmful ingredients for our body. And the young generation are more aware of this than any generation before them. Customers prefer their food less processed, lower in calories and with less fat and trans-fats, but at the same time, they expect the fast service, they they are accustomed to. Fast Casuals are just the kind of restaurants, that they have been looking for and hence they have become so popular. The fast casual market has grown by 550 percent since 1999, and the market now take home $25 billion per year. The traditional fast food restaurants still lead the way with $190 billion in annual revenue, but the fast casual growth is out pacing that of the traditional fast food segment. About one-third of consumers say that they are willing to pay more for healthier ingredients.
Because of the ever growing popularity, fast casual chains like Au Bon Pain, Blaze Pizza, LYFE Kitchen, Freshii, Sweetgreen have recently opened many new branches and according to them, customer prefer their food to traditional fast foods. Even the fast food giants like Pizza Hut and McDonalds are adding new, healthier fast casual menu items to their menu, in order to meet the need of the modern customer.
LYFE Kitchen is an acronym for Love Your Food Everyday, and all their menu items contain fewer than 600 calories and 1,000 milligrams of sodium. Another good example, Shake Shack, offers antibiotic-, hormone- and GMO-free burgers, hot dogs and shakes.
What’s in Store for Fast Food?
Large fast food chains are taking notice. Taco Bell has developed an entire menu of vegetarian options and has been certified by the American Vegetarian Association. Pizza Hut has removed trans fat, artificial flavors and colors and monosodium glutamate from menu items. McDonald’s is adding whole-fruit clementines and yogurt to Happy Meals.
There is absolutely nothing to be worried about for fast food lovers. Fast Casuals restaurants are just making sure, that the food contain no trans-fats, and less artificial flavors or colors in them. Basically, all the harmful ingredients are being thrown out of the window and you should be rather delighted for this.
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