18 Fast Food Industry Statistics To Know

Are you hungry for a delicious dose of fast food facts? Well, you’re in for a treat as we serve up 18 sizzling statistics that’ll give you a mouthwatering peek into the world of fast food in 2023.

Grab your favorite snack and settle in because we’re about to dish out the juiciest details on burgers, fries, and all things fast food!

Fast Food Industry General Statistics

The fast food industry, an enduring giant in the United States, continues to thrive, with a whopping 36.6% or 84.4 million adults in the country indulging in fast food on any given day.

Even in the face of economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this segment of the restaurant industry maintains its growth, supported by some eye-popping statistics:

Big Bucks in the Fast Food Business

In 2022, the US fast food industry boasted a remarkable revenue of $331.41 billion. That’s right, more than a quarter of a trillion dollars per year!

This industry has steadily grown at an impressive rate of about 1.1% for decades. To put that into perspective, back in 2000, it was valued at $239.2 billion.

Franchise Frenzy

As of 2020, there were a staggering 785,316 franchise owners operating fast food restaurants across the United States. The magic of franchising allows fast food companies to expand rapidly without having to rely heavily on borrowed funds.

This not only fuels the industry’s growth but also benefits individual franchise owners, who enjoy the advantages of national advertising campaigns, expert guidance from fast food veterans, and access to resources that might be out of reach for independent entrepreneurs.

Changing Costs

The typical fast food meal usually falls within the $5 to $7 range. However, the pandemic caused a noticeable uptick, with prices rising by an average of 6%.

Average American’s Appetite

On average, an individual American spends approximately $1,200 on fast food in a single year. When you look at households, they allocate around 10% of their income to fast food over the course of a year.

Global Fast Food Force

On a global scale, the fast food industry served up an impressive $797.7 billion in revenue in 2021. While the United States is often synonymous with fast food dining, it’s worth noting that 37% of the world’s fast food revenue comes from the US.

That’s a testament to America’s insatiable appetite for this particular dining experience.

Fast Food Restaurant Landscape Statistics

Fast food restaurants have embedded themselves into the fabric of American life, and you’re likely to spot one no matter where you are.

They pop up as stand-alone eateries or nestle inside larger stores, malls, or rest stops. Here’s a closer look at the sheer magnitude of this industry:

Hamburger Dominance

When it comes to fast food, hamburgers steal the spotlight, accounting for a significant chunk of the market at 31%. It’s what immediately springs to mind for most people when they think of fast food.

This category includes well-known giants like McDonald’s and Burger King. Pizza and sandwiches also make their mark as popular menu items.

Subway’s Substantial Reach

Subway takes the crown as the largest franchised store in the United States, boasting a sprawling empire of 20,622 locations across the country.

The restaurant’s annual systemwide sales in the U.S. ring in at a substantial $10.4 billion. California leads the pack with the highest number of Subway locations, hosting 2,014 of them, which is about 10% of all Subway stores.

Franchise Leaderboard

Subway clinches the top spot with its impressive network in the realm of franchised stores. McDonald’s, renowned for its iconic hamburgers, secures third place.

For coffee and breakfast offerings, Starbucks and Dunkin’ step up to claim second and fourth place, respectively.

Fast Food Restaurant Statistics

Get ready to dive into the heart of fast food as we serve up a platter of delectable statistics on your favorite fast food restaurants.

From the biggest chains to the most mouthwatering menu items, we’ve got the inside scoop on what’s cooking in the world of fast-food dining. So, grab a napkin, and let’s dig into these tasty stats!

The People behind Fast Food

The fast food industry isn’t just about serving up quick meals; it’s also a significant employer, with roughly 3,450,120 individuals on its payroll in the United States. These employees earn a mean hourly wage of $11.80, which translates to an average annual income of $24,540.

Fast Food by the Numbers—State by State

Fast food is woven into the fabric of American communities, and the statistics show it.

When it comes to fast food restaurants per capita, Alabama takes the lead with an impressive 6.3 restaurants for every 10,000 residents, making it the state with the most fast food establishments in America relative to its population.

Following closely behind are Nebraska and West Virginia, with 5.4 and 5.3 restaurants per capita, respectively.

On the flip side, Vermont claims the title of the state with the least fast food restaurants in America per capita, boasting just 1.9 establishments per 10,000 residents. New Jersey and New York are not far ahead, with 2.0 and 2.1 fast food restaurants per capita, respectively.

CompanyTotal Locations
Taco Bell7,772
Burger King7,257
Pizza Hut6,850
Dairy Queen4,341
StateRestaurants Per Capita
West Virginia5.3

Fast Food Industry and Covid Statistics

The COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, causing significant changes in the fast food landscape. Social distancing, mask-wearing, and state-imposed restrictions presented new challenges for fast food restaurants.

However, those offering delivery or drive-through services found themselves in a more competitive position compared to sit-down or dine-in establishments.

Here’s a closer look at how the pandemic reshaped the industry:

Pandemic Pivots

As in-person dining became increasingly challenging, fast food restaurants adapted by prioritizing delivery and drive-through services. These adjustments gave them a vital competitive edge during the pandemic.

Shifting Ordering Habits

Restaurant foot traffic dwindled, and online reservations vanished, but online orders for pickup and delivery experienced substantial growth, surging by nearly 12% on weekdays.

Take-out orders became more common on weekends, while online orders predominated on weekdays. Lunch orders spiked by a noteworthy 18%, whereas dinner orders saw a more modest increase of 3%, and late-night orders faced an 11% decline.

Altered Foot Traffic

The pandemic dramatically altered the traditional foot traffic to fast food and casual dining restaurants.

Fast food restaurants saw a 45% decrease, while casual dining establishments experienced an even more pronounced drop of 67% since the initiation of lockdown measures.

Fast Food Industry Health Statistics

Fast food’s convenience has long been recognized, but so too are its health concerns.

While various organizations have launched advertising campaigns emphasizing food quality and initiatives to improve calorie awareness, the health statistics surrounding fast food remain a matter of concern, as highlighted by the following data:

Calorie Conundrum

The average adult consumes a hefty 836 calories per fast food meal, often underestimating their actual intake by 175 calories.

A healthy meal for an adult typically hovers around 500 calories or less. Many fast food restaurants now strive to provide healthier menu options and offer nutritional information, both online and at their franchise locations.

Expanding Plates

Over the past two decades, the portion sizes of fast food items have seen significant expansion.

Hamburgers, for instance, have grown by 23%. Mexican food portions have ballooned by a whopping 27%, while soft drinks have swollen in size by 52%. Even snacks, whether it’s potato chips, pretzels, or crackers, have surged in size, marking a 60% increase.

Fast Food Industry Trends and Predictions

The fast food industry shows no signs of losing steam, maintaining a steady growth trajectory and poised for further expansion. These key statistics and trends underline the industry’s resilience and enduring appeal:

Steady Growth

The market size of the fast food restaurant industry in the US has demonstrated consistent growth, averaging a 1.1% increase annually from 2016 to 2021.

Robust Expansion

The year 2021 is predicted to see an impressive 8.9% increase in the market size of the fast food restaurant industry in the United States.

Globally, the fast food market displayed substantial strength, reaching $647.7 billion in 2019 and is estimated to surge to $931.7 billion by 2027. This signifies a notable compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1% from 2020 to 2027.

Dining Out Resurgence

The “food away from home” index surged by 5.8% from 2020 to 2021, marking the most substantial one-year increase since 1982.

This surge in demand clearly demonstrates that Americans sorely missed the experience of dining out during the pandemic, and 2021 is witnessing a significant rebound.


So there you have it, folks! We’ve taken you on a whirlwind tour through the fast food universe in 2023, where burgers and fries meet health concerns, innovation, and undeniable popularity.

The numbers don’t lie – the fast food industry constantly evolves, offering a buffet of choices to satisfy your cravings. As we continue to navigate a world of change, one thing’s for sure: fast food isn’t going anywhere.

It’s a delicious and enduring part of our lives, always ready to serve up something tasty in a flash. Bon appétit!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why has the fast food industry continued to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the fast food industry’s adaptability, with an emphasis on delivery and drive-through services, helped it thrive. Consumer demand for convenient options and a longing for dining out fueled this growth.

2. What’s the impact of fast food on health, given the calorie statistics?

Fast food meals often exceed recommended calorie limits for a healthy adult, with an average meal packing 836 calories. Many fast food chains are now offering healthier choices and nutritional information to help customers make more informed decisions.

3. What are the current trends in the fast food industry, and what’s the future outlook?

The industry has seen steady growth, with a 1.1% increase in market size per year between 2016 and 2021, and an 8.9% expected increase in 2021. Globally, the fast food market is projected to reach $931.7 billion by 2027, driven by a 5.1% annual growth rate.

4. How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect dining habits in the United States?

The pandemic caused a significant shift in dining habits, with restaurant foot traffic decreasing by 45% and casual dining experiencing a 67% drop.

However, online orders for pickup and delivery surged by almost 12%, revealing a preference for contactless dining options.

5. Which states in the US have the highest number of fast food restaurants per capita?

Alabama leads the pack with 6.3 fast food restaurants per 10,000 residents. Nebraska and West Virginia follow closely with 5.4 and 5.3 restaurants per capita, respectively.