Fast-food chicken growing in popularity

Chicken has become the second most popular item in Australian Quick service restaurants (QSR), approaching burger – a traditional fast food leader, according to research by The NPD Group. Over the last three years, QSR chicken has increased 2.8 % in traffic while the QSR burger increased by 1.6 %. The whole foodservice industry was able to grow only by 0.5 % since 2017, and the entire QSR channel grew 0.8 % in a period from October 2017 till September 2019.

Millennial consumers (those aged from 18 to 34 years old) are the main buyers and consume 42 per cent of chicken servings in the foodservice industry. “Chicken is getting even more attention from Millennials who have increased their share of visits to QSR Chicken outlets by 4.6 per cent above any other age group in the last three years, – explains Seton Leung, head of Australia Foodservice, The NPD Group Australia.

READ MORE: Fast food flagged as target for waste eating system

Millennials are quite sensitive to prices and feel the economy stagnation more strongly than others. Instead of a beef burger with French fries, they are ordering chicken wings or nuggets”. The average eater cheque of QSR chicken visit is $9.38 and increased by 1.5 per cent in the last three years (In comparison, QSR Burger average cheque has risen by 2.7 per cent).

QSR Chicken has always sold more chicken than any other restaurant or foodservice outlet: it has generated 36.6% of chicken servings consumption in the foodservice industry, commanding 8.4% of foodservice visits. Chicken consumption is most likely to happen during the main meal, with more than 1 in 2 servings of chicken going to lunch, while dinner generates 40% orders (in a year October 2018 – September 2019).

Consumers see chicken as a healthier and lighter option than beef because of a widespread belief that red meat has high cholesterol levels, and doctors suggest that consumers should limit red meat consumption to a few meals a week. According to The NPD Group, 8.8 per cent of customers mentioned that they had chosen the QSR chicken outlet because it offers healthy options compared to 7.5 per cent of the total occasions in the foodservice industry.

Families with kids are ordering chicken more often. Consumption by families in QSR grew 14 per cent compared to a year ago. Kids are key influencers on where the family is going to have lunch or dinner. They often choose chicken QSR because fried chicken is easy to share and served alongside a variety of condiments like BBQ or mustard sauces . Parents usually don’t mind the higher price, according to The NPD Group, and coupled with the kids’ influence, are two main motivations to visit chicken QSR.

QSR chicken operators have been effectively targeting families with group bundle promotions for most of 2019. In addition to special promotions, value packs and seasonal menu items have helped operators to generate traffic. Thirty-seven per cent of QSR Chicken consumers mentioned that they utilised some form of deal in their visits, compared to 27 per cent of deal-led consumers in the food service industry.

For most of 2019, QSR chicken operators had been using different promotions to target clients and specifically families. Value packs, seasonal menu items, and special offers have helped operators to generate traffic: 37 per cent of QSR Chicken consumers mentioned that they utilised some form of deal in their visits, compared to 27 per cent of deal-led consumers in the foodservice industry.

The top five chicken dishes (ranked by servings share of total chicken dishes) in QSR (October 2018-September 2019) are:

  1. Burger/Sandwiches (46 per cent)
  2. Nuggets/Strips (17 per cent)
  3. Wraps (14 per cent)
  4. Fried Chicken Pieces (9 per cent)
  5. Grilled/Roast Chicken (8 per cent)

Another reason why Millennials and other consumers are switching to chicken is their concern about climate change. “This generation sees climate change as their challenge and believe that the impact of each individual counts towards the societal whole, believes Seton Leung. – Chicken has a much lower carbon footprint and requires ten times less energy and resources in production than beef”. According to the NPD Group, beef consumption by Millennials has fallen by -2.3 per cent in the last three years.

‘Healthy’ fast food chains not living up to their claims

Each month, 11.5 million Australians consume fast food. Alongside traditional burger, fried chicken and pizza chains, new chains are positioning themselves as healthier alternatives to the typical, energy-, saturated fat-, sugar- and salt-laden meals on offer at traditional chains.

We know the fast food environment influences our food choices. Promotions and marketing on labels and websites influence our decisions about the foods we buy. Many chains are now using claims about nutrient content and health benefits on their websites to create a marketing edge and perhaps make us feel less guilty about our next fast food purchase.

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code defines nutrition content claims as those that state the presence or absence of a nutrient, for example, “contains calcium”. Foods with these claims must meet the minimum (or maximum) quantities for the nutrient in the claim, called the qualifying criteria.

Health claims are those that relate to a food-health relationship, such as “contains calcium for healthy bones”. In addition to containing the minimum/maximum quantities of the nutrient, foods carrying these claims must also meet the Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criteria, meaning they are healthier foods based on their energy, saturated fat, sugars, sodium, protein, fibre and fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content.

Previously, there has been close scrutiny of grocery foods carrying these sorts of claims, and whether they comply with the requirements of the code. However, any food sold in Australia is subject to this code, and there has been no scrutiny of the claims being made by fast food outlets.

We noticed fast food chains were increasingly using claims on their websites, and given how influential claims are on food choice, we decided to investigate these claims being made by chains.

How honest are fast food chains in their claims?

In 2015, we assessed the claims fast food chains were making on their websites to promote the nutritional value of their foods.

We found more than 40% of menu items being marketed using claims may not have complied with the requirements of the code. These foods did not meet the qualifying criteria set out in the code, meaning consumers could believe these foods are healthier than they actually are.

The chains that fared worst in our study were those positioning themselves as “healthier” – such as a popular juice chain and a popular salad chain (the authors have chosen not to publish the names of the chains).

For example, a Chipotle Pulled Pork Wrap from the salad chain claimed to be low in energy and salt, despite containing more than four times the permitted amount of energy and sodium per 100g.

This product has a similar amount of energy per serve (2051kJ) as a Big Mac (2060kJ), and contained a whopping 1552mg sodium per serve – two-thirds of an adult’s upper daily sodium intake.

Another example is Green Tea Mango Mantra from the juice chain, that supposedly has immunity-boosting powers, despite not meeting the requirements of the Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criteria and containing between 68-91g sugars per serve – that’s 17-23 teaspoons.

These sorts of claims lull us into a false sense of security that we’re choosing a healthier fast food. Eat these foods too often, and you’ll probably be consuming more kilojoules, fats, and sugars, which could contribute to weight gain.

But it’s not all bad news. Since the study was conducted, several of the offending chains have removed claims that may not have complied. This is because the study was conducted during the phase-in period of the standard on nutrition content and health claims, with this standard becoming mandatory on 18th January 2016. So it’s working to a degree, but many remaining claims still may not comply.

With the “eating-to-go” habit here to stay, healthier fast food chains have an important role to play in ensuring healthy food options are available. They also have a responsibility to ensure the correct nutritional information accompanies them.

The study highlights the need for closer monitoring and enforcement of the Food Standards Code by the state food agencies. Whether fast food chains are deliberately flaunting the code, or have not been adequately educated on the use of claims and the requirements for making them is hard to say.

Regardless, stronger enforcement will ensure customers are able to make healthier fast food choices. In the meantime, relying on the claims is not a good way of making these choices.

The Conversation

Lyndal Wellard, PhD Student in Nutrition and Dietetics and Senior Nutrition Project Officer at Cancer Council NSW, University of Sydney; Kathy Chapman, Director of Cancer Programs, Cancer Council NSW; PhD Candidate in Nutrition & Dietetics, University of Sydney, and Margaret Allman-Farinelli, Associate Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Sydney

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Top image: Shutterstock


Hungry Jack’s bans added hormone beef

Hungry Jack’s has become the first major Australian fast food chain to eliminate added hormones from its beef patties.

Added hormones, or Hormone Growth Promotants (HGPs), were introduced in Australia approximately 30 years ago. However they are strictly banned in many regions around the world, including the European Union and China. Around 40 per cent of cattle in Australia are raised with HGPs.

Hungry Jack’s Chief Marketing Officer, Scott Baird said customers had been very receptive to the move to No Added Hormone beef and the introduction of the Better Beef guarantee, which took effect across the company’s network of more than 400 restaurants on Tuesday, 16 February.

“Our commitment to move away from caged-eggs by the end of 2017 has been just as positive and celebrated by customers and industry alike,” Baird said.

As the Huffington Post points out, the effects on the human body of eaten HGPs have yet to be established due to insufficient data. And that very lack of information has created caution amongst many consumers.

Cattle Council of Australia president Jed Matz told the Weekly Times, consumers would not be able to tell the difference between beef containing HGPs and beef without it.

Anti-Salmonella and anti-Listeria food packaging

Erze Ambalaj, the largest producer of expanding foam packaging for food in Turkey, together with Parx Plastics has developed antimicrobial packaging that significantly reduces the growth of Salmonella, Listeria, E.Coli and Staphylococcus Aureus in food packaging. 

The laboratory results are an antibacterial surface, measured according to ISO 22196 by the Independent University of Ferrara in Italy, of 92,5% against Listeria, 96% against Salmonella, and up to 96,5% against Staphylococcus Aureus. 

This means this improved food packaging has scientifically-proven, 93-97% less bacteria on the surface of the material after 24 hours compared to normal food packaging.

By reducing the presence of bacteria after the manufacturing of the packaging material, during the transport of the packaging material, during packaging of the food and during the shelf life period of the product, the right conditions have been created to prevent contamination, and to provide the best possible shelf life for food products.

The Parx technology does not use biocides and the trace element used is compliant to the European regulations for plastics that come into contact of food.

How marketers condition us to buy more junk food

Fast food giant McDonald’s has been under a cloud in recent years as its US customers turn to alternatives. In this “Fast food reinvented” series we explore what the sector is doing to keep customers hooked and sales rising.

While excess weight and obesity is a growing global concern, there has been more and more advertising and promotional effort encouraging the consumption of unhealthy food.

In many cases this marketing is targeted at children, and takes place online. In our recent study we investigated the impact of online marketing communications on children and their intention to consume unhealthy food. We found fast food ads on social networking sites can manipulate young audiences – their purchasing likelihood, their views of fast food and their eating habits.

The qualitative study included a sample of 40 Australian children who use social networking sites. Half (21) of the children were male and the average age was 14 (the youngest being 12 and the oldest 16). Their parents were also present during the interview, however they agreed not to intervene during the conversation.

A growing problem

The prevalence of excess weight and obesity among Australians has been growing for the past 30 years. Between 2011 and 2012, around 60% of Australian adults were classified as overweight, and more than 25% of these fell into the obese category. In 2013, more than 12 million, or three in five Australian adults, were overweight or obese. On top of that, one in four Australian children were overweight or obese. Excess weight and obesity is only beaten by smoking and high blood pressure as a contributor to a burden of diseases.

Despite this, the food industry is succeeding in using marketing communications to change attitudes, perceptions and perceived norms associated with unhealthy food.

Consumers are lured by surprisingly cheap deals, which are especially attractive to teenagers and young adults with low income. But sales promotions such as discounts and coupons often offer only short-term benefits to consumers and are usually not effective among middle-age adults.

However, if a promotion is offered for a long period of time (i.e. more than three months), it can actually influence customer habits, encouraging repeat purchases – for example, the $1 frozen Coke.

Similarly, sales promotions can make other brands be perceived as less attractive by customers after a period of time. For instance, the $1 frozen Coke campaigns by McDonald’s and Hungry Jack’s affect the perception of frozen Coke in terms of monetary value. Many consumers become less willing to buy a frozen Coke that is more expensive than $1. The same can be said of $2 burgers or $5 pizzas.

The role of social networks

More than half (16 out of 30) of the respondents admitted they tended to change their eating habits after repeatedly being exposed to advertisements on social networking sites.

“Yes, many people say that it is not good to eat fast food. I used to think so but not anymore. Look at their ads, they are colourful, many options and cheap.”

“I just cannot resist it… I had been looking at the ads day after day and I decided that I needed to try these”.

Interestingly, fast food was associated with socialisation and fun among young consumers.

“The ads make me feel like this is where we belong to. This is our lifestyle…where we hang out and can be ourselves.”

“This is about our culture, young, active and free. We are kids but also not kids. We are different.”

Peer pressure

Peer pressure is heavily related to eating habits, especially during puberty when there is usually a shift from home influence to group motivation. Teenagers and young adults in particular tend to choose a particular type of food under peer pressure.

More than 70% of teenagers will choose a food according to the preference of their friends. This means marketing communications promoting fast food consumption can create a snowball effect within this group of customers. For example, Jack, Sara and Park go out together. If Jack and Sara order Big Burgers with extra cheese, the likelihood that Park will order another Big Burger with extra cheese is approximately 75%. In contrast, only 2.7% of people aged over 40 choose fast food because of their peers.

It’s clear marketing efforts by fast food chains can promote unhealthy eating habits. Also, peer influence plays an important part in forming eating habits. This means the intervention of government and health organisations should concentrate on increasing customers’ attention to health issues, self-efficacy and perceived norms, and at the same time, lessening the influence of marketing efforts aimed at motivating unhealthy eating habits.

The Conversation

Park Thaichon, Assistant Professor of Marketing, S P Jain School of Global Management and Sara Quach, PhD Student, Swinburne University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Krispy Kreme helps to grant more wishes

Krispy Kreme is joining forces with doughnut-loving fans and Make-A-Wish supporters, to raise as much money as possible for the children’s charity.
During September, $1 from every Star Doughnut sold in store and online will be donated to Make-A-Wish. Beyond this, Krispy Kreme doughnut-lovers can continue to support Make-A-Wish throughout the year, with Krispy Kreme also donating $6 from every dozen pack sold online, and $1 from every co-branded enviro-bag sold in store.

Krispy Kreme Australia’s CEO, Andrew McGuigan, said the company is delighted to combine the fun of Krispy Kreme with a cause like Make-A-Wish Australia.
“We’re really proud and excited to be supporting Make-A-Wish. Giving back to the community is part of our global mission. A charity partner like Make-A-Wish really inspires us to do more, give more, and gets all our team at Krispy Kreme involved in helping seriously ill children,” said Mr McGuigan.
Make-A-Wish CEO Gerard Menses is very pleased to have Krispy Kreme’s support again in 2015.
“Krispy Kreme is a fantastic supporter of Make-A-Wish, and we’re thrilled to partner with them. The money raised by the Star Doughnut initiative will help us grant even more wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
“We have an ambitious goal of granting 2000 wishes per year within the next decade, so that every child in Australia battling serious illness can experience the healing power of a wish. The funds raised by Krispy Kreme customers will help us inch closer to that goal,” he said.
This year, Krispy Kreme is dedicated to raising over $100,000 for Make-A-Wish Australia. Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of very sick kids and teenagers, giving them hope for the future, strength to face the challenges of their illness, and joy from their incredible wish experience.

Coca-Cola launches new summer campaign

It’s a couple of months out from the start of summer in Australia which means three things are a given: the onset of daylight savings, the sound of cicadas outside your window and a new Coke marketing push.

To underline this change in seasonality, Coca-Cola South Pacific has announced the launch of its 'Coke Come Alive' campaign, dedicated, the company says, “to showcasing the uniqueness of each Coca-Cola product and celebrating the great taste benefits they provide. The aim of the campaign is to drive growth and embed the role of the brand in the lives of youth consumers.”

The 'Coke Come Alive' campaign will launch with a series of TVCs across TV, digital & mobile video and cinema. One TVC will focus on the Coca-Cola family of brands as a whole and dial up the over-arching campaign messaging, while other TVCs will focus on each individual variant in its own right, including Coke Life, Coke Zero and Diet Coke and highlight the differences between the products. Additional outdoor advertising will be rolled out to amplify campaign and product messaging, and build awareness. 

Dianne Everett, Group Marketing Manager Coca-Cola Trademark, Coca-Cola South Pacific, said: "We want Australians to re-appraise the uniqueness of Coca-Cola's uplifting refreshment and what each product has to offer. Our campaign will bring the brand to life in the coming months designed to engage and connect with Australian consumers." 

Further campaign activity will be announced in the coming months as Coca-Cola gears up for the summer season.

McDonald’s feels the pinch, but fast food is fighting fit

Fast food giant McDonald’s has been under a cloud in recent years as its US customers turn to alternatives. In this “Fast food reinvented” series we explore what the sector is doing to keep customers hooked and sales rising.

McDonald’s, the epitome of fast food, has been suffering a decline in global sales for the past few years. Globally, McDonald’s revenues in the first half of 2015 fell by 10% to US$12.5 billion and net income dropped by 22% to US$2 billion.

In May this year, worldwide sales dropped by 0.3%, with the greatest decline of 3.2% occurring in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, most certainly resulting from the food safety scandal in 2014.

Given the declines being seen at McDonald’s, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that junk food and takeaway is “out” while healthy foods are “in”. Consumers in many markets now accept fast food is unhealthy, a view consistently echoed by the scientific community. There’s no shortage of evidence: fast food is rich in fats and salt, and normally accompanied by beverages high in sugar.

A recent Mintel report on attitudes towards healthy eating in the UK finds that “being overweight is the most prevalent of health concerns among Britons”. So, increasingly, the healthiness of food is playing a large role in food decisions. For example, the same study found that the healthiness of food is the second-most-important consideration for food choice, with taste being number one.

A blip rather than a serious decline

The consumption of fast food and takeaway may be slowing down in some Western economies, but that’s not the case globally.

Combining data from various sources, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Economic Research Service, QSR Magazine, Economist Intelligence Unit, Mintel and company results, it’s possible to get a greater understanding of general trends.

In the US, spending on fast food and takeway per capita is projected to go from A$782.40 in 2015 to A$779.80 in 2018. A similar stabilising trend is forecast in the UK, with per capita spending expected to increase from $A228.40 in 2015 to $A232.40 in 2018. In Australia, spending per capita is predicted to fall from $A645.60 to $A620.40.

Retail market spend per capita on fast food and takeaway




However, this pattern is perhaps compensated by growth in Asia, South America and Eastern Europe. For example, per capita spending in China is predicted to rise from A$151.86 in 2015 to A$181.67 in 2018. In Brazil, per capita spending is estimated to increase from A$135.90 in 2015 to A$149.50 in 2018. In Russia, per capita spending on fast food and takeaway is expected to go up from A$55.61 in 2015 to A$76.96 in 2018.

Moreover, McDonald’s competitors, such as Burger King, Dominos, KFC etc, have turned around their fortunes, and the future of the fast food and takeaway industry looks even brighter. Burger King reported a rise in sales of 7.9% in the US and Canada during the second quarter of 2015. Although KFC and Pizza Hut (both owned by Yum! Brands) suffered declining sales in China, both have seen sales growth in UK markets.

In New Zealand, KFC reported a 9.7% annual sales rise in April. It also plans to open 150 new restaurants in Russia after recording 48% growth in sales for the first quarter of 2015. Pizza Hut almost doubled its annual profits in 2014 and is expecting to open several new outlets in the coming years.

Next stop, developing markets

People are becoming more health conscious and are more informed about the benefits of healthy eating. Educational programs are being introduced in schools to teach children about the different food groups and inculcate healthy eating habits. Governments have also taken measures to limit the consumption of junk food, implementing tighter regulations targeted towards curbing advertising to children.

These steps are taking place in both the developed world and in countries such as India, where the growth of fast food and takeaway is projected to grow. The Delhi High Court in India has decreed that junk food – or food high in fat, sugar and salt – must be restricted in schools and within a 50-metre radius around schools. New rules and regulations are also being put in place to restrict film stars and cricket icons (the aspirational group of the Indian middle class) from advertising junk foods.

All these factors will hopefully limit the consumption of unhealthy food and trim the waistlines of citizens across their nations. But the fast food and takeaway industry is also well poised to respond to these changes. For example, McDonald’s recently introduced the “Create Your Taste” campaign allowing consumers to customise their burgers.

Burger King is replacing sodas with fat-free milk, low-fat chocolate milk and apple juice in the beverage options on its children’s menu. And fast food companies such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and Dunkin Donuts are also planning to trial home-delivery options, making their product more accessible to the public.

Ultimately, suggestions of the demise of fast food are likely to be greatly exaggerated.

The Conversation

Anish Nagpal, Senior Lecturer, Management and Marketing, University of Melbourne and Kristijan Causovski, Research Assistant, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Eagle Boys fly off with new products

As Eagle Boys Express approaches its 10-year anniversary at Brisbane Airport the menu continues to expand with new products successfully taking off.  

 Eagle Boys Express, working with corporate caterer Spotless Group at their Brisbane Airport store Cavu, have developed a tailored menu to include options at the airport catering for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks.
New products have been cooked up specifically for Cavu, including a sub-sandwich range – Chicken Club, Southern Style Chicken, Classic Steak Sandwich, Old Fashioned Meatball and the New York Roast Beef Special; and Cajun chicken tenderloins extending the menu beyond Eagle Boys Express’ pizza.  All menu options are cooked within three minutes (or less).
Brand manager Robin Heslehurst said the Eagle Boys Express model was designed to allow it to adapt and respond to consumer trends.
“The Eagle Boys Express system was opened at Brisbane Domestic Airport in 2006 when the Spotless Group wanted to fill a space left by a juice bar,” he said.
“Fast forward a decade and Spotless Group continues to support new innovations in food service.
“Spotless Group, like Eagle Boys Express is an Australian brand focused on innovation, and we look forward to continuing this successful partnership at locations around the country.”
Eagle Boys Express partners with corporate groups and established businesses to offer its products through airports, convenience stores, petrol stations, cinemas and shopping centres.
The system can be incorporated into businesses using existing equipment, with staff and business owners receiving optimum training.