Fast food and takeaways are booming in South Africa, with KFC the preferred destination for South African consumers.
According to research from Eighty20, restaurants and coffee stores have struggled since the Covid-19 pandemic began, with a 22% drop in revenue (at constant prices) from 2019.
Whereas the takeaway and fast food category saw a massive ost-covid recovery and is now 41% higher than the 2019 levels (at contact prices).
“Despite South Africa’s current economic woes, these categories have shown consistent growth over the last 3 years since Covid. However, this growth has stalled for restaurants over recent months, with July and August showing more than a 4% contraction year-on-year (at constant prices),” Eighty20 said.
“Fast food, on the other hand, has continued to grow in real terms. The fast-food category was a third of the size of the restaurant category pre-Covid, but now it is more than two-thirds – showing just how much consumers’ purchasing behaviour has changed.”
Eighty20’s MAPS data highlights this trend, with the number of people who haven’t personally bought food from a Fast Food/Casual Dining outlet over the last four weeks declining from 9% of the adult population in 2022 to 7.4% in 2023.
Older and wealthier South Africans have largely been responsible for this increase – low-income, humble elders (69% growth) and comfortable retirees (222% growth).
“The Mass Credit Market and Middle-Class segments have been particularly hit by recent economic pressure and have thus shown the least growth,” said Andrew Fulton, Director at Eighty20.
“Growth from lower income segments is reflected by the increase in a number of the smaller ‘value’ chain fast food outlets such as Pedro’s and Honchos.”
When looking at fast food and quick-service restaurant outlets, there are some mixed trends.
KFC has seen a drop in popularity over the last year despite retaining its title.
The same is true of the other medalists – Chicken Licken and Debonairs – who have seen decreases in their popularity over the last year.
Whereas McDonald’s (4th), Spur (6th), Nando’s (7th), and Wimpy (10th) saw an increase.
“Chicken, burgers, and pizza make up an estimated two-thirds of all fast food spend, with chicken dominating fast food preferences in South Africa. The top 10 list of fast-food outlets, according to MAPS 2023 has one pizza restaurant, three burger joints and four chicken eateries,” said Fulton.
KFC is still comfortably the biggest fast-food chain, with more than a quarter of respondents saying that they had purchased from KFC over the last four weeks.
The experts said that it is interesting that casual dining brands have fared so well in comparison with their fast food peers.
The SpurCorp saw its revenue grow by 27.4% in FY23, while Famous Brands – the owner of Steers and Wimpy – grew revenue by 10%
This improvement in casual dining restaurants may be due to the result of several market changes, such as a return to pre-Covid behaviour and the impact of load shedding on households looking to avoid cooking and eating in the dark.
Online consumer shopping and new food delivery options, including Checkers Sixty60, UCOOK, MR D and Uber Eaats, also changed how consumers buy and eat food.
“As consumers face tough economic conditions and have to adapt, so do their need states and the occasions that underpin this. Casual dining provides a value offering that allows families to bond over a meal together without breaking the bank,” said Melisha Reddy-Naicker from Nando’s.
“One hypothesis is that a bucket of fried chicken, or a family trip to Spur is a relatively inexpensive way to bring happiness to a family in tough economic times,” Fulton concluded.