Fast food can offer fast profits

The number of people visiting a fast food outlet (ie burger van, fish and chip shop, kebab, pizza or chicken shops) in a typical week has decreased over the last 12 months, from 18% of the UK population to 14%.

Is this because consumers are becoming more health conscious and are looking for alternatives to the typical fast food offering? Perversely – health is rising up consumers’ agendas – but overall, we as a nation are not eating any more healthily today than at the turn of the last decade. But we all like to think we are.

So are the days of the burger van doomed? While there has been a decrease in usage, 14% still represents six million visits per week to fast-food outlets. What are the implications for wholesalers as a proportion of their customers turn to supermarkets for better deals?

These fast-food outlets have fantastic locations and long opening hours which they can use to maximise their turnover. However the majority of their sales still come from food items, not soft drinks or crisps and confectionery and this is a huge missed opportunity. These high impulse lines can be picked up while waiting for food to be prepared. Are caterers merchandising impulse lines in impulse hot-spots?

Sixty two per cent of fast food caterers do not read the trade press and 49% do not seek help from colleagues or family members so how do they keep up to date with the latest industry developments and information? Could wholesalers advise fast-food caterers on issues like health and safety, legislation, business issues and consumer trends specific for their customer base?

If wholesalers become the point of reference and source of meaningful information for fast-food outlet owners then proprietors may be less inclined to shop at supermarkets (54% source fresh lines from supermarkets).

We also know that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the environment. Are fast-food retailers falling behind other food outlets in terms of packaging, comfortable seating and lighting? Our high street tracking programme shows that large numbers of down-market consumers (historically fast-food outlets’ typical customers) are using food chains like Pret, Eat and Subway. Coffee shop chains are also developing their food offer – meaning competition for fast-food outlets continues to grow.

Are wholesalers also looking to provide environmentally friendly packaging for fast food outlets to use? With consumers becoming more concerned with reducing the amount of packaging food is sold in, it is just a matter of time before consumers expect all packaging to be biodegradable and recyclable?

This October Him will be speaking to 2,000 caterers while they are shopping in cash and carries thoughout the UK. We will also conduct a series of accompanied shops. This type of in-depth research will enable us to really dig a lot deeper into many of the issues which are extremely important for our clients to understand. Focus areas for the accompanied shops include decision tree, what is important to the shopper, how they decide to purchase and what prompts them to buy when in depot.

l For more information please contact Georgina Wild, marketing manager on Georgina.Wild@him.uk.com or 020 7611 0404 or visit [http://www.him.uk.com]

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