For decades Americans found the accessibility of a fresh hot meal from the local fast food restaurant enticing. Fast Food chains became a staple of the American restaurant industry, which created a highly saturated market.
Of late, fast food chains have faced pressure by fast-casual restaurants offering better quality foods for a slightly higher price. The fast food sector of the restaurant industry has seen noticeable slowing of sales.
For the meantime fast food restaurants still maintain a strong hold on consumers dollars due to their largess.
The growing demand for healthier fresher ingredients is making it hard for large chains to remain competitive. Many face challenges in sourcing the quantity of ingredients needed for many of their menu items.
For example Wendy's has had trouble sourcing 2 million pounds of blackberries needed for a seasonal salad being featured at its 6,500 North American locations. It took months to find more suppliers than those they already had. Finding blackberries was extremely difficult for Wendy's because most are sold to grocery stores not restaurants. To meet Wendy's demand their berry supplier, California Giant Berry Farms growers, had to plant extra bushes three years prior.
Sourcing the quantity of ingredients these larger chains need to supply their restaurants is almost impossible. Even choosing ingredients becomes difficult due to the food making process.
Wendy's had dropped the idea of using raspberries in salads because the fruit wouldn't hold by the time it made it to the salad.
More frequently are consumers looking to fast- casual chains like Chipotle and Shake Shack for fresher options.
The number of fast-casual chains jumped from 23,000 in 2010 to approximately 169,000 in five years.
Traditional chains are pushing against the stream by advertising fresher ingredients in hopes of shaking social stigma against the fast food industry. McDonald's is testing kale salad bowls and advertising fresh cracked eggs to make their breakfast sandwiches. Del taco commercials show avocados being freshly sliced, which has become an upgrade for all menu items. Chick-fil-A is trying to revamp their image with locally sourced ingredients.
With traditional QSRs response to the growing tension fast-casual chains responded by outlining the artificial and processed ingredients in the fast food industry.
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