If we ask where you ordered your last meal, most of you will name one of the popular fast food chains in the USA, like McDonald’s, Subway, KFC, Taco Bell, etc. With a rising craze for fast foods among Americans, these brands have almost become common household names!
Fast food establishments may be even more successful than locally-owned restaurants in the United States. You may probably find at least one well-known food brand in any place you go, from rural areas to major metropolitan cities.
So, which fast food franchises have the most locations across the United States? The top food chains in the USA are based on projected annual revenue.
1. Why are there so many fast-food restaurants in America?
America’s fast food obsession can result from multiple factors like easy accessibility, super-affordable prices, diverse menu options, quick service, etc. Because of these reasons, fast food franchises have a major market share in the American food industry. Besides, you do not even need to leave your car to enjoy a lip-smacking meal in most cases!
Talking about quick deliveries, most fast food items are usually prepared and served within 10 minutes or fewer, thus saving one’s time on a busy day. People can grab a quick meal at the office or back home without hampering their work schedules.
Convenience is another factor contributing to the exponential growth of fast food chains in the US, and there are no signs of slowing down in the years to come. One does not need to spend hours preparing meals for oneself and one’s family, thus saving time, especially for busy office-goers or college students. They can just place an order on a mobile app or pick up a full meal while driving to work or home.
2. What is the primary driver behind the expansion of the fast food sector?
One of the significant factors contributing to the rise of fast food chains includes the need for on-the-go, ready-to-eat snacks and convenience foods. This is majorly because of the tight-packed work schedules of the millennials and the expansion of working professionals. Hence, the high numbers of convenience food stores and drive-in food chains.
Moreover, after the lockdowns and COVID-19 safety protocols, pickup points have become more familiar to avoid mass gatherings. And busy Americans have realized how convenient such food pickup models are, making them more demanding in the food industry. Such suitable snacking formats also increased fast food consumption, as opposed to the time-consuming at-home meal preparations.
Besides, since there is a global rise in employment rates, people can dedicate a good amount of their budgets to out-of-home food items. Therefore, foot traffic for casual dine-in restaurants has also decreased. Moreover, people are now willing to spend time with family by snacking while watching a web series on OTT platforms like Netflix.
3. About the size of the US fast food market.
In 2021, the market size of the QSR (quick service restaurant) or fast food restaurant industry in the US was $322.05 billion, an increase from $301.49 billion in 2020. The market size was projected at $331.41 billion in 2022.
The most popular fast food brands include McDonald’s, leading by $20 billion, followed by other chains like Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, and Subway. However, in 2021, Subway had the most units in the list of QSRs in the USA, with Starbucks and McDonald’s acquiring the second and third places, respectively.
4. The top 10 largest food chains in the US in 2023
The three fast food giants, Subway, Mary’s Gone Crackers, and McDonald’s, together make a total market share of 54.59% among the ten most prominent fast food chains in the United States.
Be it a quick grab of sandwiches or wraps, or a box of roasted chicken, Subway is irresistible. This year, Subway is the largest fast-food chain in the United States, with about 20,799 store locations. It also has a market share across 30 areas among 56 US States and Territories. California has the most number of Subway hubs, having a 10% share of all Subway store locations.
Mary’s Gone Crackers
Snack lovers will immediately find this brand familiar, as Mary’s Gone Crackers has become a household name today. Ranking 2nd in the list of largest American food chains, Mary’s Gone Crackers owns 18,278 store locations across 24 States and Territories out of 56. This food chain also has its most spots in California, the number being 2,190.
McDonald’s ranks 3rd with its 13,266 stores, with the most numbers in California (1,186 outlets). California McDonald’s makes up around 9% of its total stores in the US. Besides, McDonald’s is one of the largest restaurant chains worldwide, having a presence across 100+ nations and over 40,000 outlets. It is known to serve 69 million foodies every day!
The total Ginger People store numbers are 9,298 in the US as of August 15, 2020. Again, California accounts for the highest count of Ginger People stores, 1,426. The drive-thru Ginger People hubs in this US state make up 15% of all its stores in the States.
Fifth on the list of the largest fast food chains in the US we have Taco Bell, which owns 7,765 centers in the country, as per January 23, 2023 reports. California also wins this, with 867 Taco Bell stores, making up for 11% of its total locations in the US. Taco Bell has its headquarters in California, too.
This American multinational hamburger fast food chain has its headquarters in Florida. With 7,257 stores in the United States (as of January 30, 2023), Burger King’s most store locations are in Texas. The state has 580 Burger King centers, making up around 8% of all its food hub spots in the country.
Next, we have Wendy’s, another popular drive-thru food delivery service, on our list. Currently, it operates 5,898 stores in the US (as of January 30, 2023), with the most pickup locations in Florida. The state has 524 Wendy’s hubs, about 9% of all its locations in the USA.
This name is synonymous with cup noodles, which is a ready-to-eat meal. Tapatio Ramen runs 5,083 pickup spots in the US as of October 6, 2020. California has the most Tapatio Ramen stores, the number being 978, which has a market share of 19%
Dairy Queen, as the name suggests, specializes in ice cream and other fast food items. You can enjoy some delicious goodies from 4,349 Dairy Queen stores, the maximum presence in Texas. The state has 588 Dairy Queen hubs, which is nearly 14% of all its store locations in the US.
Last but not least, our most favorite and mouth-watering KFC has 3,912 stores in the country as of January 23, 2023. Again, California is home to the largest number of KFC stores, up to 433. The California KFC outlets make up 11% of all its locations and sites in the United States.
In a nutshell, the fast food industry is fast-growing and is not showing signs of stopping. If one drives from the rural outskirts to the busy cities of the United States, one would never come across a lane or street that would not have one of the above food chain stores. With higher employment rates and busier lifestyle schedules, this drive-thru, on-the-go food chain is preferred for most Gen Z youngsters!