In 2008 an IGA survey reported in Foodweek had found that 57% of Australians ate fast food at least once a week. A Sensis report the following year revealed that eating at a restaurant accounted for eight per cent of meals in Australia, with takeaway food accounting for a further nine per cent. By 2011 Australia had more than 1250 Subways, 845 Domino’s, 780 McDonald’s and 300 Hungry Jack’s, with 600 KFCs across Australia and New Zealand. It was estimated that Australians would spend $37 billion on fast food in 2011.
The trend towards meals out of home was to continue. In 2014, McDonald’s was the most popular fast-food chain, with 29.5% of the market, followed by KFC with 19.9% and subway with 17%. McDonald’s averaged 2.7 visits per customer in a four-week period. The others in the top ten were, in descending order, Hungry Jack’s, Domino’s Pizza, Red Rooster, Pizza Hut, Nando’s, Eagle Boys Pizza and Oporto.
Of these, Red Rooster, Eagle Boys and Oporto were the only chains with Australian origins. Oporto was the original flame-grilled Portuguese chicken store, with the first outlet opening in North Bondi in 1986. This pre-dated Nando’s, which was founded in South Africa in 1987.
Red Rooster had its origins in Western Australia in 1972 and twenty years later, after merging with Big Rooster, popped up throughout the eastern states. Eagle Boys was founded in Albury in 1987 and at its peak had 340 stores across Australia. However, it went into receivership in 2016, was bought by Pizza Hut and the brand no longer exists.
The top five fast-food chains are all American, although the Hungry Jack’s name was hastily invented for Australia by the US giant Burger King. It seemed a lowly fast-food operator in Adelaide had dibs on the Burger King brand.
However, not all American fast-food franchises succeed in Australia. Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Taco Bell, Chili’s and others have struggled to make an impact in this market and many have abandoned the effort.