Nevin Barich is the Food & Beverage analyst for Industry Intelligence, a Los Angeles-based market intelligence firm. It's the perfect job for him: He loves junk food, he often works besides a glass of Diet Dr. Pepper, and anytime one of the health nuts in his office gives him grief for eating a Big Mac, he gets to smile and say: "Hey, this is my job." Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.
Since I was a kid, I’ve loved hot dogs. When the craving hits and I don’t have any in the house, I will often go to 7-Eleven for a couple of quarter-pound Big Bites. They’re good, they’re cheap, and the chili and cheese are free!
Lately, I’ve noticed that 7-Eleven offers other prepared foods: Chicken sandwiches, cheeseburgers, pizza, chicken wings, and even mozzarella sticks in some locations. It’s even increasing the number of promotions for these items: Any sized coffee and a ring donut for $2. Two pizza slices for just $2. A 1/4 –lb. Big Bite and 32-oz. Big Gulp for $2 (and if you get a second Big Bite, most locations will let you up the soda size to 64 oz). More and more, I find myself going to 7-Eleven for not just my hot dog needs, but for my donut and pizza needs as well.
I’m just one example of an interesting trend in the fast food world: Quick-service chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s are facing increasingly stiff competition from convenience store chains like 7-Eleven and ampm as they expand their prepared food options. (more…)
The fast food industry is bringing back $4 value meals in full force, but this time with an added wrinkle: Customization.
Wendy’s is currently offering customers a limited-time offer to choose its Double Stack burger as a sandwich option for its $4 meal. Other choices include the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger and the Crispy Chicken BLT.
While other chains frown on substitutions for these meals — the promo poster for Carl’s Jr.’s meal explicitly states “No Substitutions” — don’t be surprised if that changes soon. Customization remains a growing trend in fast food, which could grow with the help of popular $4 meals. (more…)
Every year around this time, fast food industry experts make lists of trends they expect to see in the industry for the upcoming year. To be honest, I ignore most of them. In fact, I ignore all of them, except one: my own!
With that in mind, here are the top trends I think we’ll see in the fast food industry in 2017: (more…)
You’d be forgiven if you thought that the fast food industry was quickly on its way to going the way of robots.
After all, go to the drive-thru and you’re often greeted with a recorded voice asking if you want to try the latest new product. Go inside any McDonald’s in the country and you’re likely to find a wall of kiosks to take your order instead of a cashier. Some places will even serve your food in glass compartments!
Yes, automation is making an impact on the U.S. foodservice industry. It just might not be taking over as fast as you expect. (more…)
McDonald’s took the offensive last year in the fast-food breakfast wars when it introduced the concept of all-day breakfast items to its menu. And now it’s testing Breakfast Happy Meals that could lead to the fast food chain going in for the kill.
At 73 locations in Tulsa, Oklahoma, McDonald’s will be offering morning kids’ meals, the first major new food entrée to the Happy Meal line in more than three decades. If the test proves successful, the meals could be rolled out across the U.S. next year. (more…)
In recent weeks, the fast-food industry has made a renewed push to remove antibiotics from its chicken products. Among them:
Why the change? Antibiotics are used for animal health maintenance, disease prevention, and treatment of disease, but there’s a growing concern among consumers and health officials that these same antibiotics lead to an increase in treatment-resistant bacterial infections in humans. Thus, the food industry, including fast food, has been continuously moving away from the practice.
Additionally, there’s been a measured shift toward chicken and away from beef in fast food. According to a recent report by research firm Technomic, the top 250 U.S. restaurant chains added about 325 new chicken items during the 12-month period ended June 30, compared to just 73 new beef items. Analysts say this trend reflects consumer cravings for healthier, high-protein meat.
My cousin Adam, who lives in Albany, recently sent me this text message:
DUDE! I just had a lobsta roll at McDonald’s and it’s AWESOME! A lobsta roll bro! At MCDONALD’S!!!! You gotta try it man!
But unless I hop on a plane to New England, I can’t try it. That’s because McDonald’s only offers the McLobster in certain areas in the Northeast. Out here in California, I’m out of luck.
Though the McLobster itself isn’t new, it’s part of a growing trend in the fast food industry: offering locally-inspired items only in select locations. It’s the industry’s latest attempt to attract millennial men like my cousin. (more…)
There’s a fast-casual restaurant near my office in Los Angeles called Good Stuff. Recently, I was craving a burger and Good Stuff’s bacon and avocado cheeseburger always hits the spot (and for you carb-counting people, you can also get it wrapped in lettuce). So I walked down to the restaurant and picked up my burger, when something on the menu caught my eye: We are now serving cage-free eggs. (more…)
On a recent trip to Carl’s Jr., I had the following exchange at the drive-thru window:
Carl’s Jr. Female Voice: Good morning! Welcome to Carl’s Jr. Would you like to try our new Smoked Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit?
Me: No, thank you.
Carl’s Jr. Male Voice: What can I get for you today?
Wait a minute. Wasn’t I just talking to a woman? I thought so. In actuality, I was listening to a recording that plays every time a customer drives up. (more…)