As the GFC started to impact businesses in Australia towards the end of 2008, the Australian foodservice market, like most around the world, was one of the first market sectors to feel the impact of the economic downturn. Although consumer spending on eating out is discretionary, Australians still wanted to go out for a meal. However, they have traded down in their choice of outlet, they don’t go out as often and they spend less each time. This has made QSR chains one of the winners in current market conditions as they represent value for money as well as entertainment for the entire family.
Over the past years the growth in QSR chain outlet numbers has been the strongest among all commercial foodservice channels at 5% annual growth. Australia has today more than 8,000 QSR chain outlets which represent 12% of all commercial foodservice outlets. This makes QSR chains the fifth largest channel in terms of outlet numbers, but they represent the largest channel in terms of number of meals served. Every year one billion meals are served by QSR chains across the country representing 28% of all meals served in the commercial foodservice sector.
Competition in the Australian marketplace is strong with 17 major QSR chains, 80 minor chains and another 30 snack food chains competing for the fast food dollar.
Hot potato chips and hamburgers remain two of the most popular fast food items among consumers but the consumption of Asian fast food such as noodles and sushi, has by far, seen the strongest growth over the past decade making Asian fast food the largest category in today’s market.
Espresso coffee drinking in the foodservice market is spreading among all ages and across various socio economic groups. As a consequence, espresso coffee is now increasingly served by all types of foodservice outlets including fast food chains and independents and is no longer the sole domain of cafés and restaurants. Interestingly, in today’s fast food market 30% more hot coffees are served compared with carbonated soft drinks. Coffee is now the number one preferred hot drink of choice, also among the younger age groups.
Although fast food consumers are increasingly concerned with healthy eating, it does often not translate into practice when standing in front of a menu board. However, fast food consumers do believe QSR chains could do more to reveal what exactly is in their food. In particular, they believe fast food outlets have a responsibility to disclose the amount of fat, salt and kilojoules in the food served at the time of purchase, such as on the menu board, and not only on their website.
The outlook for the fast food chain market is solid irrespective of economic conditions, granting QSR chain operators a greater degree of business certainty compared with other foodservice operators. Currently, retail turnover of restaurants and cafés for example, flat lined from November last year right through December and January which normally is the only peak trading period in the Australian foodservice market.
Sissel Rosengren, Head of Foodservice, BIS Shrapnel Pty Ltd
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by QSR Media. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Sissel Rosengren is the Head of Foodservice of BIS Shrapnel Pty Ltd. Sissel has more than 20 years of experience in marketing research, industry forecasting and strategic planning in Australia, Asia, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom.