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Technology and food trends are some of the most important aspects of the fast food industry. A fast food business (or quick service restaurant) always offers customers a casual dining experience. With this in mind, it’s more common and acceptable to make changes to the business model. 

Restaurant tech and food tech companies work together to offer groundbreaking solutions. In many cases, these solutions are the catalyst for rising fast food industry trends. 

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Fast Food Industry 

In the fast food sector of the hospitality industry, eateries purchase standardized ingredients for the purpose of commercial resale. In doing so, they’re able to cut back on one of the most prominent restaurant expenses–inventory. 

Restaurant inventory management practices at fast food eateries are more straightforward than for other restaurant styles. With more funds in the restaurant budget to work with, it’s easier for fast food businesses to implement new trends. 

Fast Food Industry Trends 

If you’re an entrepreneur, there are many benefits of fast food and similar business models. Whether you want to implement one tech solution or operate a fully automated fast food restaurant, there are many trends to keep in mind as we enter 2023. Keep reading to learn about six of them! 

1. Food Delivery 

Food delivery isn’t exactly a newer trend. If anything, it’s become a standard practice in the restaurant industry. However, there are many emerging trends in regard to online ordering apps

Innovative restaurant technology offers many unique elements to delivery apps. Some features growing in popularity include:

  • Live ordering monitoring
  • Marketplace order insertion 
  • Scheduling features 
  • Messaging with the delivery driver

2. Kiosks 

Self ordering kiosks are some of the most efficient solutions in fast food. They allow customers to purchase food on-the-go while saving businesses many expenses. 

Kiosks can cut the labor cost of a restaurant since they require few employees. In a dine-in setting, the wait staff alone can be a high cost. However, kiosks are worth the investment if you’re hoping to maintain a stricter budget.

3. Creative Menus 

One of the perks of running a fast food restaurant is that ingredients are standardized across the board. More importantly, they’re simple to prepare and serve. 

With this in mind, fast food restaurants can offer creative menus with ease. Fast food restaurant owners can choose simple menu items from a wholesale directory that are easy to serve. 

Customers already favor fast food restaurants due to their reasonable prices. So could you imagine how much opportunity there would be if they started selling unique menu items? It’d be a recipe for success. 

Some examples of unique menus can include:

  • Nut-free meals 
  • Gluten-free meals 
  • Vegan and vegetarian options 
  • A kid’s menu 
  • Dairy and lactose-free options

4. Voice Ordering for Restaurants 

When voice ordering was first introduced to the restaurant scene, it was a trendy service. But after just a short period of using this solution, customers now prefer it. 

Voice ordering at eateries allows customers to directly engage with the brand.  When doing so, they’re able to communicate exactly what they’d like to order. This element leaves little to no room for human error. 

When restaurants deliver accurate orders, it’s a foolproof way to enhance customer satisfaction. It also helps to retain customers (see: customer retention strategies).

5. Catering Services 1

Catering services aren’t anything new. However, it’s more popular than ever before to cater events from more casual eateries. 

Another trend in fast food are online platforms for booking restaurant reservations. This also allows restaurants to offer catering services online. 

Customers can use a website or mobile app to browse a catering menu, schedule the delivery for the time of the event, and be all set. It’s a simple way to land larger parties, too.

6. Rewards Programs 

A restaurant loyalty program can boost sales for an eatery. Consumers flock to businesses that offer perks for their loyalty, so this trend is always worth considering. 

It’s even easier to launch a customer rewards program at a fast food business since prices are so low. They can be more enticing by offering multiple points for certain items or on certain days. 

An issue restaurants face with loyalty programs is that they can cause them to lose profits. However, fast food businesses are profitable enough to offer various reward tiers.

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Fast Food Industry Statistics 

The fast food industry boasts many record-breaking statistics. Here is just a handful of some of the most interesting facts about the industry:

  • As of 2021, the United States was home to 197,653 fast food restaurants.
  • The fast food industry generated a whopping $797.7 billion globally in 2021.
  • 37% of Americans consume fast food on a daily basis. 
  • In 2020, there were 785,316 franchise owners in the United States. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic caused fast food prices to rise 6%. 
  • The fast food industry employs over 3 million employees in the United States. 
  • Since 2020, online orders for pickup and delivery are up about 12%. 
  • The index for fast food rose 5.8% from 2020 to 2021.

With all of these statistics in mind, it’s safe to say that operating a fast food restaurant business is a profitable business venture. Whether a business owner embarks on being a franchisee for a major brand or chooses to launch an eatery from the ground up, there is much room for growth opportunities

Even though a startup would be more expensive and complex to launch, the fast food business model should remain effective. Just ensure that your restaurant business plan contains a realistic financial plan and features catering to your ideal customer profile

Frequently Asked Questions About the Fast Food Industry

The restaurant industry would be quite different if fast food did not exist. The fast food industry contributes to so many popular trends, products, and services. In fact, many traditional eateries are influenced by practices and strategies from fast food industry pioneers. 

Learning about key details and the profitability of fast food eateries is key to learning how they can adopt new trends so quickly. Read on to learn more about the industry as a whole! 

What Is the Fast Food Industry?

The fast food industry consists of casual eateries that serve prepared menu items in short timeframes. They often have bundles, discounts, drive-thrus, and rewards programs. Fast food restaurants offer consumers convenient meals and drinks on the go, while keeping the processes quick and efficient. 

How Big of An Industry Is Fast Food?

As of 2022, the fast food industry in the United States has a market size of $331 billion. Fast food is a massive sector of the food and beverage industry and experts only anticipate it to increase in value over the next several years. 

What Is the Most Popular Fast Food Chain? 

McDonald’s is currently the most popular and profitable fast food chain in the United States. In 2021, McDonald’s generated a whopping $46 billion in systemwide sales. 

Is the Fast Food Industry Still Growing? 

Yes! According to recent reports, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the fast food industry in America will grow 5.1% from 2020 to 2027. Considering that many Americans consume fast food on a daily basis, the growth rate will continue to rise over time. 

What Is the Future of Fast Food? 

To keep up with trends and a high demand for quick service, the future of fast food looks very technological. Tech solutions like self-ordering kiosks and tableside devices will increase in popularity. It’s also safe to say that there may be more tech solutions that replace traditional processes involving human interaction. 

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Fast Food: The Trendiest Food and Beverage Sector 

There are so many fast food industry trends to keep an eye out for. The food and beverage industry is no stranger to innovation, and this business sector is only getting started! Once you identify where your business can improve and what’s available in the technology market, adopting new trends can take your fast food business to the next level.