Fast Casual Steals the Show

Segment continues to outpace restaurant industry, says Technomic

Panera Bread Fast Casual Technomic (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores)

CHICAGO -- The fast-casual segment continues to steal share from full-service chains and drive limited-service growth, making up 15% of the $231 billion limited-service restaurant segment, Technomic's Top 150 Fast-Casual Chain Restaurant Report reveals. Fast-casual sales increased 11% in 2013, while all limited-service chains grew by only 3.5%.

"It's no secret that today's consumer wants quality offerings made quickly," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic. "Fast casual has made an impact on the full- and limited-service restaurant landscape. Before, a consumer might have traded a quality and fresh meal for something quick and economical. Fast casual continues to find new ways to offer both, and it has become a $34.5 billion segment."

Bakery cafes continued to lead all menu categories among the Top 150 fast-casual chains, with U.S. systemwide sales of $6.7 billion, up more than 9% over 2012. The Mexican and sandwich categories were second and third largest, with U.S. systemwide sales of $6.4 and $4.9 billion, respectively.

The specialty menu category saw the fastest sales growth, up 16% followed by chicken, which was up 12%. The sandwich and specialty clusters experienced the highest unit growth, growing outlets by 13% and 11%, respectively. Top fast-casual clusters and their leaders include:

  • Bakery cafe led by Panera Bread with estimated sales of $4.1 billion.
  • Mexican led by Chipotle Mexican Grill with estimated sales of $3.2 billion.
  • Sandwich led by Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shop with sales of $1.5 billion.
  • Chicken led by Zaxby's with sales of $1.1 billion.
  • Asian/Noodle led by Panda Express with sales of $2 billion.
  • Burger led by Five Guys Burgers & Fries with sales of $1.1 billion.
  • Pizza led by Donatos Pizza with estimated sales of $174 million.
  • Specialty led by Dickey's Barbecue Pit with estimated sales of $331 million.

Chicago-based Technomic provides facts, insights and consulting support. Its services include proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry.