Society is more health-conscious than ever before. Food’s focus has left what tastes good, and has arrived at what ingredients are on the plate. This change in focus has hit the fast food industry especially hard, considering fast food is more easily made with a fryer and carbs. However, drive thrus featuring lower-fat alternatives and better ingredients are receiving positive feedback and profit gain for their efforts.
As the demand for calorie counts and fresh ingredients only continues to rise, QSRs’ traditional method of fast-frying their food continually becomes a target for criticism. These shifts in thinking are most likely permanent, too.
Analyst Bonnie Riggs of The NPD Group confirms “we are definitely seeing a health movement, not a fad,” from consumers. Her data revealed that consumers voted “healthy as the No. 1 characteristic they want to see more of on restaurant menus.”
The FDA set a frightening compliance date of May 5, 2017 for chains of 20 stores or more to display nutritional information. It has since been stretched to next year, but quick-serve restaurants are scrambling to 1) gather their own nutritional information and 2) figure out how to improve their calorie counts as to not scare customers away.
There is no doubt that switching to cleaner, better alternatives in the drive thru is a challenge. But those that have done it are yielding encouraging results. Carl’s Jr.’s “All-Natural Burger” had claims of exceeding sales forecasts every week upon its release; McDonald’s implementation of its “Egg White Delight” and “Breakfast Bowls” are seeing success, too. Even vegetarian and vegan options, like Amy's Drive Thru for example, are picking up high speed, according to ezCater. Utilizing buzzwords like “all-natural” and “locally sourced” in drive thrus are turning heads and gaining traction.
Fast food doesn’t have to mean that whatever mystery-sandwich you are consuming is soaked in corn oil. Swapping those frozen patty shipments for antibiotic free ones is no doubt an investment, but an almost guaranteed ROI.