Business World

Saturday 30 August 2014

Fast food empires crumble as US titans lose customers on home turf

Published 03/07/2014 | 00:00

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A busy McDonald's restaurant in Times Square, New York. The fast food giant is losing ground in the US.

LIKE the Roman Empire, US fast food companies are conquering the globe while crumbling at home.

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Fast-food titans McDonald's and KFC are big in Ireland but losing to the likes of In-N-Out Burger, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Chick-fil-A back home, according to a new survey by Consumer Reports on fast-food.

The survey, released yesterday, ranked regional chain In-N-Out-Burger the industry's best hamburger chain, based on food quality, value and service. Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill was the top Mexican chain, followed by Chipotle, while Chick-fil-A ranked highest among chicken chains.

The results track with sales results at many of the major fast-food chains, which are struggling to find the right recipe to woo younger Americans who increasingly are seeking fresher, healthier food.

"More and more, food quality - not just low price - is emerging as a deciding-factor for many Americans," said Tod Marks, the senior projects editor for Consumer Reports.

Mr Marks called results Consumer Reports' poll of 32,405 subscribers, a "wake-up call" for the industry: "Our survey clearly shows the big guys need to respond."

The top-rated hamburger restaurants were In-N-Out Burger, the Habit Burger Grill and Culver's. McDonald's, the world's largest chain but a laggard when it comes to taste, finished behind 20 others, including Jack in the Box, Wendy's and Burger King Worldwide.

KFC also landed the eighth position in the chicken restaurant category behind unknowns in Ireland such as Chick-fil-A, Boston Market and El Pollo Loco.

America's top pizza chain was Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake Pizza, ahead of bigger rivals Papa John's International and Domino's Pizza.

Chick-fil-A, which has stirred fiery debate in the US with its anti-gay marriage stance, also led in service and clean surroundings.

Privately owned Subway was top for healthy choices, followed by Jason's Deli.

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