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Statistics About Fast Food

40+ Shocking Fast Food Statistics For 2023 | US & Worldwide Data

Last Updated on January 13, 2023 by Shari Mason

As of June 2022, America’s fast food industry was worth around $331.4 billion, a little over ⅓ of the global fast food market. 

Thus, it’s unsurprising that the US ranked as the world’s most fast-food-obsessed country in 2022.

Fast food trends and statistics can be useful in helping you to prepare for the future and stay ahead this year. 

By understanding the current state of the fast food industry and analyzing key data points, you can make informed decisions and better predict what may be coming down the road.

Our team spent several hours interviewing dozens of fast-food franchise owners to get you the most up-to-date industry statistics. Keep reading. 

Fast Food Statistic Key Findings 

woman ordering on a fast food restaurant
  • TikTok is quickly becoming the app of choice for many fast-food operators.
  • Plant-based meal options are projected to grow up to 7.7% of the global protein market by 2030, with a value of over $162 billion, up from $29.4 billion in 2020.
  • There were over one billion views on YouTube videos featuring junk food.
  • 43% of preschool children ate products from restaurants they saw in TV ads.
  • As of 2022, there are 197,163 Fast Food Restaurant businesses in the US, with an increase of 0.6% per year on average over the five years between 2017 – 2022. And expected to grow into 2023.
  • According to trend experts and data scientists, nostalgic menu items will be huge in 2023. 
  • McDonald’s is still the most profitable fast-food restaurant in the world, with nationwide sales of $46.0 billion.
  • 67% of fast-food restaurant sales come from digital ordering, which increased by 23% since it was implemented and will likely triple in 2023.
  • On any given day, 50 million Americans consume fast food.
  • The global fast food market is expected to reach $931.7 billion by 2027, rising at a CAGR of 4.6% from 2020 to 2027.

Top 40 Fast Food Facts & Consumption Statistics

1. McDonald’s is America’s favorite fast food. 

With roughly $46.0 billion in nationwide sales in 2021, McDonald’s is still Uncle Sam’s King of fast food. 

This giant food chain serves approximately 13,500 locations all over the US, 118 countries, and 40,000 stores worldwide. 

Fun Fact: McDonald’s serves 69 million people every day, more than the population of Thailand and the United Kingdom. [1]

Top 5 Most Popular Fast Food Chains In The US

Fast Food ChainNationwide Sales Rank
McDonald’s$46.0 billion1
Starbucks$24.3 billion2
Chick-fil-A$16.7 billion3
Taco Bell$12.6 billion4
Wendy’s$11.1 billion5

2. Subway has the most number of restaurant locations per state in the US. 

As of December 14, 2022, Subway has 20,799 stores in the United States, with California having 2,041 stores, about 10% of all Subway stores in the US.

McDonald’s may be the King of fast food chains in terms of sales, but Subway gets the crown in terms of the number of locations.

3. There are almost 200,000 fast-food restaurants in the US alone. 

Fast Food  Image

As of 2022, there are 197,163 Fast Food Restaurant businesses in the US, with an increase of 0.6% per year on average over the five years between 2017 – 2022. [2

In 2021, the US market size was approximately $296.6 billion, but it’s projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.1% through 2027. But what was the first Fast Food restaurant ever?

4. Chicken sandwich menu offerings will most likely grow as chicken breast prices are down 70%.

According to a National Restaurant Association survey involving more than 500 food industry experts, fried chicken sandwiches and their new variations will be one of the biggest trends in the new year. 

The Wall Street Journal also reported that chicken breast prices in the US went down to 70% from their peak in June 2021, along with chicken wings and thighs. 

However, according to BLS, despite the decrease in prices, chicken meat prices still elevated by roughly 15% over October 2021.

5. Americans spend more than $1,200 on fast food every year. 

On average, Americans spend more than $1,200 (that’s 36.6% [3]) on fast food annually, $100 monthly, $13.15 weekly, or $3.39 daily.

The average American household reportedly spends 10% of its daily income on fast food.

Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice

Additionally, an average American household reportedly spends 10% of its daily income, up to roughly $110 billion annually.

6. Fast food consumption decreases with age. 

percentage of adults who consume fast food

According to a CDC.gov report, the overall percentage of adults who consumed fast food decreased with age

The 2013-2016 report also noted that the overall percentage of adults who consume fast food increased when their incomes also increased. 

Since most reports have already revealed that people with higher incomes tend to eat more fast food, this trend will most likely continue to grow in 2023. 

7. People ages 20-39 eat the most fast food on any given day.

According to a CDC report, Americans between 20 to 39 years old (44.9% of Americans) consume fast food on a daily basis. 

It is followed by 40 to 59 years old (37.7%) and those 60 years old and above, which is about 24.1% [4].

8. Men consume more fast food than women.

Men, particularly young men, eat more at fast food restaurants than women. 

According to reports, at least 38% of men eat fast food meals on any given day, 2.6% more than women (35.4%) [5]. 

Men between 20 to 39 years old (46.5%) eat fast food compared to 43.3% of women of the same age group. 

9. According to trend experts and data scientists, nostalgic menu items will be huge in 2023. 

According to Yelp’s predictions from data scientists and trend experts, nostalgic brands and menu items will be big in 2023. [6

Fast food chains like McDonald’s, are leaning on bringing back nostalgic menus and characters to draw in old and (of course) new customers. 

Fast food giants like McDonald’s, are leaning on bringing back nostalgic menus.

Business Insider

This marketing strategy aims to attract adults who will remember the brand’s original promotions while introducing the brand to a new generation of consumers. 

10. Regular fast food consumption increases by 2.2% every year.

bar chart showing the increasing of fast food consumption for the last 20 years

Despite the government’s attempt to divert young consumers’ attention against fast food marketing advertisements [7], regular fast food consumption continued to increase by 2.2% yearly.

11. 34% of children eat fast food, especially burgers, on any given day.

According to reports, one in three children in the US eats fast food, especially burgers, on any given day.

Researchers found that adolescents and kids ate an average of 12.4% of their daily calories from fast food

Children ages 12 to 19 ate twice as many calories from fast food restaurants as children ages two to 11.

In total, nearly 34% of children and adolescents aged two to 19 ate fast food on a given day. [8]

12. More than 40% of sales of any fast food restaurant consist of digital ordering. 

According to reports, 67% of fast-food restaurant sales come from digital ordering, while 28% come from orders placed thru phone calls. 

It was also reported that aggregators generate 16% of the average revenue, and mobile orders total 14% only.

13 Wendy’s is currently the most expensive fast-food chain in the US. 

Wendy's Fast food

Wendy’s earned the notorious title of being the most expensive fast-food chain in 2022, overthrowing Burger King with a price increase of 35%. [9]

Wendy’s may have imposed the largest overall price increase among its top competitors, but many of its singular menu items became cheaper in 2022. 

For instance, its Baconator only cost $9.62, $2.51 less than its 2021 price of $12.13. 

Its Spicy Chicken Sandwich also became cheaper by 12 cents. 

At this point, it’s not easy to assume that Wendy’s price may continue to increase in 2023.

Fast-Food Chain Price Comparison 

Fast Food ChainAverage Price Per Order
Wendy’sRoughly $6.63
Burger KingRoughly $5.14
Chick-fil-ARoughly $4.65 
McDonald’sRoughly $3.77
Taco BellRoughly $3.37

14. Taco Bell is currently the cheapest fast-food restaurant in America.

As of this writing, Taco Bell is currently the cheapest fast-food chain in America. 

Looking closely at the table above, you’ll see the $3.26 price difference between Taco Bell and Wendy’s. 

Some reports claim that the main reasons why Taco Bell is so cheap are because it uses cheap base ingredients and doesn’t use the highest quality meat. [10]

15. Plant-based options are expected to grow to over $30 billion as more consumers are becoming vegans and vegetarians. 

Plant-based meal options are projected to grow up to 7.7% of the global protein market by 2030, with a value of over $162 billion, up from $29.4 billion in 2020, as reported by Bloomberg Intelligence (BI). 

Plant-based meal options are projected to grow up to 7.7%.

Bloomberg Intelligence

That’s at least a whopping fivefold increase!

16. People are leaning more towards fast food drive-thru pick-up.

car on a drive thru

People prefer drive-thru pick-up because it’s more convenient and time-saving for consumers. 

Interestingly, reports claim that a frictionless drive-thru is preferred for people aged 18 to 44 (37%). 

The National Restaurant Association also reported that about 5% of restaurant orders were digitally placed before the Covid-19 pandemic, which has escalated to as high as 20% by now.

17. Around 30% of the fast-food restaurants that exist are focused on hamburgers. 

As mentioned earlier, McDonald’s is still America’s favorite fast food joint, so it’s not surprising to learn that Americans lean toward hamburgers. 

The US food market continues to be dominated by hamburger fast-food joints, with over 30% of industry sales. 

Top 5 Segments by Market Share

SegmentMarket Share
Hamburger-focused Restaurants30%+
Pizza parlors15%
Sandwich shops12%
Chicken restaurants8%
Mexican restaurants7%

 18. Digital orders have increased by around 23% since it was first implemented and will likely triple in 2023. 

Digital orders were strictly implemented during the pandemic, which increased by around 23%. 

According to a Square report, two out of three customers prefer ordering food via the restaurant’s mobile ordering platform to using any third-party channels. 

19. TikTok is quickly becoming the app of choice for many fast-food operators. 

In 2021, TikTok launched a new service that turned viral food videos into actual meals that people can actually order and enjoy thru the TikTok Kitchen.” 

The app partnered with Grubhub and Virtual Dining Concepts, catering to around 300 locations with more than 1,000 restaurant partners. [11]

20. There were over one billion views on YouTube videos featuring junk food.

A 2019 study disclosed that 179 out of 418 YouTube videos with influencers aged three to 14 consuming food or playing with toys showed eating unhealthy junk foods. 

Seemingly, those YouTube videos were viewed more than a billion times. [12]

21. 42.8% of the most popular YouTube videos created by Kid influencers promoted food and beverages.

Image of a Laptop showing a Youtube  video

Kid influencers made at least 42.8% of the most popular YouTube videos promoting unhealthy food and beverages and unhealthy branded products such as fast food toys, candy, and soda. 

22. McDonald’s is the most profitable fast-food restaurant in the world. 

For the quarter ending September 30th of 2022, McDonald’s gross profit was $3.446B. This was about 0.43% increase year-over-year. 

In 2019, Forbes disclosed that McDonald’s still reigned as the world’s most profitable fast-food restaurant, with revenue of $40.6 billion. [13]

We still see McDonald’s as the undisputed leader in the fast food industry for 2023. 

Top 10 Highest-Grossing Fast Food Restaurants 

RankRestaurantRevenue (as of 2019)
1McDonald’s$40.4 billion
2Starbucks$21.3 billion
3Chick-fil-A$11.3 billion
4Taco Bell$11.2 billion
5Burger King$10.2 billion
6Subway$10.2 billion
7Wendy’s$9.7 billion
8Dunkin’$9.2 billion
9Domino’s$7 billion
10Panera Bread$5.8 billion

23. ⅓ of Americans eat fast food on any given day.

One out of three Americans eats fast food on any given day, especially those aged 20-39 and 34% of children.

According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this rate is specifically high, despite the warnings on the impact of eating fast food on consumers’ health and obesity. [14]

24. African Americans consume 42.4% of fast-food daily, compared to 30.6% of Asian Americans.

African Americans (42.4%) consume more fast food daily than whites, with only 37.6%,  Asian Americans with30.6%), and Hispanics with 35.5%, according to the CDC.

25. Wendy’s fast-food brand ads aired more than 4000 times on television, while Popeyes ads aired more than 3000 times.

Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?”, introduced in 1984, became an all-purpose and iconic phrase questioning the substance of an idea, event, or product in the US and Canada. [15

Wendy’s ads aired more than 4000 times on television.

Popeyes also released an iconic brand ad using New Orleans funk and jazz music, with the trademark “Love That Chicken” jingle. 

It has ads that aired more than 3000 times.

26. 83% of American families eat at fast food restaurants at least once a week.

pie chart showing percentage of american families eaitng at a fast food restaurant

Only about 17% of American households don’t eat fast food at least once a week. On average, the remaining 83% go at least 2½ or 2.4 times per week. [16]

27. Regular consumption of fast food increases your risks for obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes & depression.

According to studies, consuming fast food more than once a week may lead to a higher risk of obesity. 

Additionally, consuming fast food more than twice a week is associated with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and death from coronary heart disease. [17]

28. Lunchtime is the most popular time to eat fast food.

Most Americans prefer eating fast food during lunchtime, followed by dinner, breakfast, and snacks. 

Breakdown of Fast Food Consumption Based On Eating Time

Eating TimePercentage
Lunch43.7%
Dinner42%
Breakfast22.7%
Snack22.6%

29. Fast food is consumed by 43.7% of Americans at lunch and 42% at dinner.

Based on a study, 43.7% of Americans ate fast food at lunch and 42% at dinner. Specifically, men (48.3%) like to eat them during lunch more than women (39.1%).

30. McDonald’s owns more than 39,000 locations. 

Over nearly 70 years, McDonald’s currently sits at just over 39,000 locations in over 100 countries as of January 2022. [18

Approximately 95% of these stores worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business owners.

31. 30% of fast food restaurants are offering healthier Items on Kids’ Menus. 

Of the 20 fast food joints examined, 30% offered healthier choices as the default option in their meal bundles by 2015, the American Journal of Public Health reports. [19]

32. A fast food meal is 37% of your daily calories.

On average, American adults consumed 11.3% of their total daily calories from fast food between 2007 and 2010, according to the National Center for Health Statistics data in 2013.

33. 5,065,599 people worked in the fast-food industry in 2022.

bar chart showing Employment Statistics 2005-2028

As of 2022, there are 5,065,599 people employed in the Fast Food industry in the US. 

Statistically, from the 3,450,120 workers (2020), the number of people employed in the industry increased by 2.5% on average over the five years between 2017 and 2022. [20]

34. On any given day, 50 million Americans consume fast food.

36.6% (50 million) of American adults claimed they ate fast food in the past 24 hours, according to interviews conducted through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2013 and 2016. 

Read: Most Popular Restaurant Mac & Cheese Options

35. The global fast-food market is estimated to be worth 931.7 billion dollars.

According to the report, the global fast food market is expected to reach $931.7 billion by 2027, rising at a CAGR of 4.6% from 2020 to 2027.

The fast food market size was valued at $647.7 billion in 2019 and is estimated to reach $931.7 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 4.6% during the forecast period. [21]

Find out how much restaurants make in a day here.

36. Once a month, 80% of Americans visit a fast-food restaurant.

A 2013 survey showed that more than 8,000 adults, almost 80%, went to fast-food restaurants at least once per month. [22]

37. Fast food is consumed once a week by 20% of the population.

Based on a study conducted in 2018, most families in America (83% of them) eat fast food at least once a week, 20% of which are even eaten in the car.

38.Fast food is consumed daily by 34% of children aged 2 to 19.

The Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics and US Centers for Disease Control published a study about the data from 2011-2012 gathered from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). 

Researchers found that nearly 34% of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 ate fast food on a given day. [23]

39. 43% of preschool children ate products from restaurants they saw in TV ads.

Researchers conducted a nine-month study in Southern New Hampshire that concluded that 43% of preschool (average of 4.4 years) ate products from restaurants they saw in TV ads, with 41% having been exposed to TV ads. [24]

40. McDonald’s sells 75 hamburgers per second, or 4500 per minute, or 270,000 hamburgers per hour.

McDonald’s sells more than 75 hamburgers every second, roughly 4,500 burgers every minute, 270,000 every hour, 6.48 million every day, and 2.36 billion burgers every year. [25] But what kind of pickles does McDonald’s use?

McDonald's Burger

FAQs 

What percentage of fast food restaurants are unhealthy?

According to research, about 70% of fast food meals are unhealthy or of poor dietary quality.

Why do most people prefer fast food?

Based on surveys, most people (about 32%) prefer fast food because it is cheap and convenient. Science ABC also claims fast food contains feel-good ingredients like calories, sugars, saturated fats, and trans fats. 

How big is the fast food industry in the US?

According to research, the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) market size in the US will be about $331.4 billion in 2022, which has grown by 2.8% per year on average between 2017 and 2022.

In Summary 

The fast food industry has grown significantly in recent decades, with many large multinational corporations operating fast food chains around the world. 

The industry is highly competitive, and companies often engage in aggressive marketing campaigns to attract customers.

One thing’s for sure – fast food will remain to be a major player in the global food industry, and many people around the world continue to enjoy fast food as a convenient and affordable option for meals.  

References:

  1. https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/personal-finance/articles/here-are-the-most-popular-fast-food-brands-in-america/#
  2. https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/number-of-businesses/fast-food-restaurants-united-states/ 
  3. https://www.zippia.com/advice/largest-fast-food-chains/ 
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db322.htm# 
  5. https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/financing/who-eats-fast-food-according-cdc 
  6. https://www.businessinsider.com/fast-food-trends-2023-chicken-sandwiches-nostalgia-value-menus-2022-12 
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3483979/ 
  8. https://time.com/4035490/fast-food-kids/ 
  9. https://www.eatthis.com/wendys-most-expensive-fast-food/ 
  10. https://www.thedailymeal.com/1047756/the-reason-taco-bell-is-so-cheap/ 
  11. https://techcrunch.com/2021/12/17/tiktok-is-launching-delivery-only-restaurants-across-the-u-s-in-march/ 
  12. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/26/health/youtube-influencers-junk-food-wellness/index.html 
  13. https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/chick-fil-a-lands-behind-mcdonalds-as-second-highest-grossing-fast-food-chain 
  14. https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2018/fast-food-daily-habit.html  
  15. https://www.thedrum.com/news/2022/06/14/world-s-best-ads-ever-91-wendy-s-inadvertently-coins-lasting-phrase-with-fluffy-bun 
  16. https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/03/health/fast-food-consumption-cdc-study/index.html 
  17. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/sneaking-a-little-junk-food-doesnt-mean-all-is-lost/2018/02/26/828b75fa-1b36-11e8-9de1-147dd2df3829_story.html 
  18. https://www.yahoo.com/video/owns-more-land-bill-gates-132113385.html 
  19. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-restaurants-kids/u-s-fast-food-chains-offering-more-healthy-options-for-kids-idUSKCN1P325B 
  20. https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/employment/fast-food-restaurants-united-states/ 
  21. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-fast-food-market-worth-931-billion-by-2027—industry-assessment-featuring-auntie-annes-dominos-pizza-dunkin-brands-group-mcdonalds-yum-brands-and-more-301096058.html 
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6140449/ 
  23. https://time.com/4035490/fast-food-kids/#
  24. https://geiselmed.dartmouth.edu/news/2017/dartmouth-research-finds-link-between-fast-food-ads-and-fast-food-consumption-among-pre-school-children/ 
  25. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2013/11/19/five-things-about-mcdonalds/3643557/# 
Shari Mason

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