According to QSR Magazine (, 2016’s fast-food trends internationally could be summed up in three words:   Wacky. Creative. Simple. These trends will no doubt continue into 2017 with some tweaking and refining and hopefully some new ideas bearing fruit.

  • Mixing it up is the order of the day…. it’s called Mash-ups. Anything to attract attention, offer something different and make money.  In the US Burger King did it with Cheetos Chicken Fries, and Pizza Hut tried it with the Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza – the latter already made popular by Debonairs in South Africa.
  • Breakfast becomes the new lunch and all-day option with most fast food brands (and some restaurants) climbing onto this new income source to add to the bottom line.  From offering breakfast specials that include scrambled eggs on pizza to offering breakfast all day long.  Gone are the days when you were refused breakfast after 11am.!
  • Cheap fast food has become the norm – with consumers wanting it and fast food brands all having to supply it. Whether it’s a burger at rock bottom price or a two for one offer, cheap fast food is here to stay.
  • Chicken remains top of the pops in the fast food category and even those brands where it is not their core offering are climbing on the bandwagon.  New franchises in the US are springing up offering chicken in all forms and shapes – from sandwiches to chicken ‘mac and cheese’.
  • Customization puts the power in consumer’s hands. Gone are the days when you got what you got…today you can mix it up and customize your order, adding ingredients to your specific taste.
  • The hottest trend in the US in 2016 and beyond is poke – raw, marinated fish salad – Los Angeles having opened at least 50 poke restaurants in the past year.  Whether this trend will develop further with more options or move from restaurant to fast food is yet to be seen.
  • No longer just a side-dish, vegetables are taking centre stage with restaurants trending with popular items such as kale and fast food brands catering to the growing vegetarian palate.
  • Continuing the holistic and healthy food trend, more and more restaurants and fast foods are going the purist route – with organic and preservative free ingredients and ethical farming practices that ensure cage-free and antibiotic-free practices.
  • Quick service in retail and entertainment outlets is catching on with stores enticing their shoppers to stay longer in their outlets by offering quick service restaurants – a move that the fast food and restaurant sector has been quick to adopt.
  • Apps were and continue to be the biggest tech success of the decade, with Starbucks and Taco Bell leading the way in this new world of apps that enhances convenience and provides return visit incentives.

Reference: Franchise Association of South Africa –

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