Trends in quick service, fast food restaurants in Australia 2019
Eating out @ home, healthier eating, sustainability, real food and fake food.
In this article we look at the trends facing quick service, fast food restaurants in Australia and internationally. The market in Australia is seen as mature – given our relatively small population, this means competition is extremely fierce:
- Market size estimate is $20bn (source = IBISWorld) forecast to be growing slightly less than GDP @ 2% per annum
- There are approximately 50,000 fast food restaurants and cafes in Australia (source = Intermedia research).
Cost of entry is relatively low and there is a high turnover of restaurants entering and leaving the market. The trend away from home cooking toward meals out and fast foods has continued in recent years (ABS data, table below). In terms of all food expenditure, Australians are spending a whopping 34% on meals out and fast foods. This has risen from 25% in 1988-89 to 31 per cent in 2009-10 and 34 per cent in 2015-16, the latest year available.
Staying competitive, know the market trends
We have curated trends from a number of Australian and international sources, added our own thoughts and summarised all into broad themes and implications for the quick service market.
Food trends – healthier, personalised, transparent
Healthier food coupled with personalised health needs, means that menus need to be flexible, and offer personalised nutrition
- Allowing customer choice to adapt the menu to allow for health needs (for example, gluten-free and dairy-free but not vegan).
- Food as medicine – gut-friendly options; the continued rise of plant-based foods; and the growth of hemp based foods (seed, protein and oil).
- Fresher food, more locally sourced to eliminate/minimise food miles and wastage.
- Transparency of source
- International diversity – experimentation with different cuisines continues – Korean, Filipino, African, Latin American currently on the radar.
- Cultured or lab-grown meat – appears to be closer than we think, maybe 10 years away. While it ticks all the sustainability boxes, we have yet to see whether consumers will embrace the concept. And to test health implications.
Consumer trends – time-poor, digital technology users
- Eating in @ home – as Table 1 indicates, Australians are cooking less and less, and eating out or eating in more often. This trend continues, and as the takeaway market is more mature we are likely to see growth in:
- Fine-dining goes casual and starts serving take-out meals
- Fast food goes ‘gourmet’ and healthier
- Delivery and pick-up will come with more customer experience (taking a dine-in experience home).
- Time-poor customers embrace online ordering, so that having your own branded order is seen as almost mandatory if you want to compete effectively. It saves customers time, allows for self-directed personalised health menu choices, and minimises errors.
- Technology makes it easier to build data analytics around customer choices, needs, preferences. This helps with planning and resourcing.
- The digital world rules – reviews rule as customers do their research online, looking not only at your reviews but also at how you handle reviews. It holds businesses more accountable for all aspects of the customer experience.
- More eating out @ home and online ordering means more pickup and delivery – restaurants will need to re-engineer their physical space to allow for bigger, more efficient and comfortable pick-up sections; efficient, fun and caring delivery; sustainable packaging.
Experience and authenticity
- Faster and better does not always translate to a great customer experience, so balancing convenience and customer experience will be the new challenge. One way to do this is to treat these as two separate customer segments and organise accordingly.
- More customer control through digital technology also means that customers desire transparency and authenticity. So dark kitchens may be on the rise, but it needs to deliver an authentic meal and be transparent about its labeling and source of origin.
- Authenticity also relates to the cuisine type and the promised experience.
Sustainability and Community
- We want to be part of a community, so support for local is key – not only the restaurant choices (delivery or pick-up without the travel distance) but also locally grown produce without the air miles.
- Sustainability applies also to growing/farming practices – seasonality of produce; how/where it is farmed/grown; how it is treated, stored, delivered.
We see this in the rise of plant-based, organic food, labeling, origin of source. While lab-grown meat may be on the horizon, there is a trend towards ethical, free range and humane practices and choices. The rise of vegetarianism also makes ‘meat substitutes’ more palatable and sustainable.
- Environmentally friendly packaging will continue to grow as we minimise the use of plastic, and increase the use of biodegradeable options.
- Waste not – will increase differentiation through claims of using the whole product, be this ‘nose to tail’ for meat products or ‘root to shoot’ for plant-based produce.
by Barb Jones, Marketing Insights writer, CCI
- Brian Reesman (2019, January 10), ‘12 Fast Food Trends for 2019’, QSR Magazine.
Retrieved from https://www.qsrmagazine.com/content/12-fast-food-trends-2019
- Marthy McCarthy (2018, May 6)) “Food from a lab or plant: is the future of meat fake and slaughter-free?’ ABC Landline.
Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2018-05-06/vegan-alternative-plant-based-meat-grown-in-lab/9726436
- Francis Loughman, MD Future Food (2018, November 23) ‘Real insights lie beyond surface impressions’,
Retrieved from http://futurefood.com.au/blog/2018/11/trend-insights-for-2019-beyond