US - Recording nine per cent growth last year, Chick-fil-A has overtaken Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) as the nation's top chicken fast-food chain.
The 500 largest US restaurant chains registered a 3.5 per cent annual sales increase in 2013, a significant decline from 4.9 per cent the prior year.
According to data released by Technomic Inc. in its annual report on the top US restaurant organizations, the food-service consultancy found that US system-wide sales for the Top 500 chains grew to an estimated $264 billion in 2013, up more than $8.8 billion over 2012.
"Although we have seen overall growth within the Top 500, the pace has slowed since last year," said Ron Paul, President of Technomic. "Competition for share of stomach is getting more and more challenging. But brands that have found a way to differentiate themselves are gaining market share."
Among limited-service restaurants, the highest growth came from the Asian, bakery café and coffee café categories. Segment leaders were Panda Express (10.7 per cent sales growth), Panera Bread (11.8 per cent) and Starbucks (10.6 per cent). McDonald's, the largest US restaurant chain, saw minimal sales growth of 0.7 per cent in 2013, to reach annual sales of $35.9 billion. Subway continues as the second largest restaurant chain in the US, followed by Starbucks, Wendy's and Burger King.
As a whole, limited-service restaurants saw a sales bump of 3.9 per cent. Chicken chains, which grew 5.1 per cent, represented another limited-service sub-segment with above-average sales growth. Chick-fil-A grew 9.3 per cent with 2013 sales of $5.1 billion and surpassed KFC as the top chicken chain.
Full-service restaurants experienced a 2.4 per cent sales increase in 2013, a slight decrease over the 2.9 per cent seen in 2012. The full-service steak category continued to show healthy growth, with an increase of 6.2 per cent. Gains in the steak category were driven by Texas Roadhouse (11.1 per cent) and LongHorn Steakhouse (12.8 per cent). Among varied-menu chains, which increased sales by 2.5 per cent overall, the category leader, Buffalo Wild Wings boosted sales 12.9 per cent.
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