2020 Fast food consumption rises during pandemic

In May 2021, the research company Roy Morgan reported that during 2020, more than 75% of Australians ate take-away food in a given four-week period. This percentage rose significantly from 63.7% the previous year.  The fast-food outlets included the big chains as well as local fish and chip shops, pizza stores and convenience stores. Fast food consumption was highest among Millennials (those aged 30-45) and Generation Z (15-30 year-olds).

According to the CEO of Roy Morgan, Michael Levine:

“The latest Roy Morgan data shows over three-quarters of Australians aged 14+, 15.9 million, ate take away food from fast food outlets in an average four weeks during 2020, up from 13.3 million (63.7%) in 2019 before anyone had heard of COVID-19.

“This represents significant growth on a year earlier but the trend of increasing patronage at fast food outlets has been consistent over the last few years. The impact of COVID-19 and keeping people at home for extended periods last year led to increasing usage of food-ordering services such as Uber Eats, Menulog, HelloFresh, Deliveroo and DoorDash.

“However, although these apps are ‘popular’ they are not the whole story as customer growth at leading fast food outlets such as McDonald’s, KFC, Hungry Jack’s and Domino’s Pizza has been consistent over the last few years.

The survey showed that burgers outrank pizza as the favourite fast food. McDonald’s and Hungry Jacks combined accounted for 12,325,000 fast food customers, while Domino’s and Pizza Hut together served 5,164,000. Macca’s still leads the field, followed by KFC, Hungry Jacks and Domino’s. Subway is next, with the rest of the top ten comprising (in descending order) Red Rooster, Nando’s, Grill’d, Guzman y Gomez and Pizza Hut.

Despite the growth in fast food consumption reported by Roy Morgan, Ibis World expected the fast-food market to decline slightly in 2021. However, over the past five years, it had outperformed other business types in the accommodation and foodservice sectors. Pundits were identifying trends in the sector including the move to plant-based foods and meat substitutes, an increasing focus on home delivery and more emphasis on social responsibility.

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