10 Biggest Fast-Food Chains in the World

In this article we will take a look at the 10 biggest fast-food chains in the world. You can skip our detailed analysis of the fast-food industry’s outlook for 2021 and some of the major growth catalysts for food companies and go directly to 5 Biggest Fast-Food Chains in the World.

There is no doubt in the fact that the fast-food industry is growing at a rapid pace, gaining popularity among the general masses. The numbers confirm this popularity as this industry alone generates over $570 billion and is expected to reach $931.7 billion by 2027. The fast-food sector is constantly evolving in order to keep up with the changing trends of the world. Now almost all the companies have become technologically advanced to satisfy the needs of this fast-paced life. Some chains are coming up with a specific ‘healthy’ menu for either their health-conscious audience or to raise health awareness amongst the other group. Fast-food options are very convenient for the audience today because they are inexpensive, quick, easy to get, and absolutely tasty. In the U.S. only, 50 million customers eat at a fast-food restaurant daily.

The restaurants today deviate from the mainstream menu and try to expand on their products by focusing on their target audience. The concepts of self-ordering, developed delivery, online orders, expanded vegan options are somewhat new to the fast-food industry. Due to these shifting trends, digital sales increased by 23% in 2020. The top fast food companies are basically chain operations functioning worldwide and together constituting a billion-dollar industry.

Let’s start our list of 10 biggest fast-food chains in the world. This list is according to the number of outlets across the globe.

Biggest Fast-Food Chains in the World

10. Taco Bell, Owned by: Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM)

Glen Bell, an American entrepreneur, founded Taco Bell in 1962 in San Bernardino, California. Bell’s idea was to bring different and culture-centric food to the market, distinct from its rival companies. The hard-shell tacos were different from the mainstream hamburgers and resulted in the quick expansion of the restaurant. The menu of Taco Bell is inspired by Mexican culture and includes nachos, tacos, quesadillas, and burritos on its menu. The restaurant is the subsidiary of Yum! Brands. Taco Bell’s target audience is aged between 18-34 who love to munch on a snack late at night. It is also keeping up with the rising health awareness amongst this group by introducing healthy food options with balanced proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. These include Power Menu Bowl, Bean Burrito, Chicken Quesadillas, etc. Taco Bell remains America’s favorite as it serves around 40 million customers each week there.

In 2020, Taco Bell announced the launch of its Go Mobile restaurants built on a relatively smaller footprint of 1,325 square feet than the average 2,500 square feet. This new model also has a dual drive-thru to accelerate the order process for the Taco Bell app users. The customers can receive their orders through the contactless curbside pickup, a model very relevant in today’s socially distanced world. In Q4 of 2020, Taco Bell reported a 1% growth in same-store sales. However, their signature breakfast menu fell from 6% to 4% in the last quarter as an outset of the pandemic. As of 2020, there are over 7,000 Taco Bell restaurants located in 31 different countries globally.

9. Baskin Robbins, Owned by: Inspire Brands

Baskin Robbins is the largest and oldest ice cream chain in the world operating since 1945. Founded by Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins in Glendale, California, the chain derives its name from its founding fathers. The company widely grabbed its customers’ attention through its apothegm of ‘31 flavors’, which denoted the idea of a different flavor for every day of the month. Now Baskin Robbins offers over 1,300 flavors to its customers around the globe. The top-selling amongst these flavors are Mint Chocolate, Vanilla, Chocolate, Pralines n’ Cream, and Chocolate Chip. The founders believed that the customers should be able to taste as many sample flavors for free as they want, before they found their favorite, which popularized the iconic pink spoon. Moreover, the chain also offers some really different flavors like azuki bean, garlic, jalapeno, and dill pickle, which was specifically made for expectant mothers.

Since its inception, Baskin Robbins has worked with the franchise model, and even today, 100% of its outlets are franchise-owned. Through this franchise plan, the company was able to control costs and generate more revenue by royalty fees and income. Their mobile app offers a lot to its customers including special offers, order tracking, and even free scoop on downloading the app. Due to the pandemic, Baskin Robbins was able to increase its digital sales from 10% in 2019 to 35% in 2020. It has around 7,800 outlets in more than 50 countries.

8. Dunkin’ Donuts, Owned by: Inspire Brands

After Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts is the most popular coffee shop in the U.S. It was founded in 1948 by the name of ‘Open Kettle’ in Quincy, Massachusetts, by William Rosenberg. The name was later changed to Dunkin’ Donuts in 1950. Dunkin’ Donuts sells around 2.9 billion doughnuts each year globally, but 60% of its sales come from beverages. Though based in the U.S., the chain caters to the taste of local cuisine for its customers belonging to different countries. For example, the Stoopwaffle doughnut in the Netherlands brings the taste of Dutch pastry, and the doughnut topped with shredded pork appeals to the local customers in China. Dunkin’ Donuts is also an inexpensive option with a larger serving size when compared to Starbucks, two vital factors for regular coffee buyers. The price of medium-sized coffee is 16 cents cheaper than that of Starbucks. Moreover, every item on the menu is customizable, based on the customers’ preference of bread, flavors, etc.

In 2018, Dunkin’ Donuts announced removing artificial dyes from its products, replacing them with fresh juices and other extracts. The chain also offers an extensive list of vegan food items, with small traces of eggs and milk, to serve the health-conscious audience. The list includes hash browns, brown sugar oatmeal, cinnamon raisin bagel, plain bagel, and a wide range of beverages. Dunkin’ Donuts has a 100% franchised model and generates revenues by earning royalties. Out of 11,300 stores worldwide, the U.S. has over 8,500 outlets, which shows its over-reliance on the U.S. market.

7. Domino’s Pizza, Inc. (NYSE: DPZ)

Domino’s is another big name in the pizza world and is a tough competitor of Pizza Hut. It was founded in 1960 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, just two years after Pizza Hut, by two brothers James and Tom Monaghan. Originally known as Dominick, Domino’s widely grabbed the attention of pizza lovers and expanded within a few years. The pizza giant had over 200 franchises in the U.S. by the late seventies. In 1983, Domino’s opened their first branch outside of the U.S in Winnipeg, Canada. For a while, Domino’s was only selling two sizes of pizza and added breadsticks and chicken wings in 1990 on their menu. As of now, Domino’s sells an average of 3 million pizzas per day worldwide. Domino’s is one of the first companies to utilize the concept of ‘cloud kitchens’ i-e., the delivery-centric business model instead of the dine-in stores. Through this plan, Domino’s was able to cut the real estate cost and generated more income than its competitors, even during the pandemic.

Domino’s journey of unique marketing strategies began in the late 2000s when the company announced the launch of Pizza Tracker, which enabled the customer to track their order’s progress. They were also pioneers of mobile ordering in which the customers could order their food through web-enabled cell phones. These strategies helped them develop a solid digital brand and provided a platform for accessible communication with the customers. Domino’s generates revenues in several ways, which contribute to its exponential growth. Operating with the strong franchise model, it charges royalties to its franchisees. It sells dough and toppings to franchisees, especially in the U.S. and Canada, and generates income. Moreover, Domino’s makes money on the product, not on delivery, and charges just a small percentage of the average order value. As of the Q4 of 2020, there are around 17,600 outlets of Domino’s in more than 90 countries. Domino’s generated a revenue of $1.3 billion in Q4 of 2020 and also exceeded $8 billion in retail sales in the U.S for the first time. Its global retail sales in 2020 amounted to $16.1 billion, a considerable jump from $14.3 billion in 2019.

6. Burger King, Owned by: Restaurant Brands International (NYSE:QSR)

Founded as Insta-Burger King in 1953, this famous hamburger chain opened its first branch in Jacksonville, Florida, United States. The founding fathers, Keith Cramer and Matthew Burns, were initially inspired by McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE: MCD)’s and looked for a similar concept. McLamore and Edgerton, the Florida franchisees, later purchased it and changed the name to ‘Burger King.’ They sold their first franchise in 1959 with the plan to expand the company further. In 1963, Puerto Rico got the first Burger King outlet outside of the U.S. Burger King’s signature whopping burger was the first of its kind when various hamburger companies were only selling small-sized burgers. The other menu items include different types of burgers, fish, sandwiches, nuggets, fries, and hot dogs.

Burger King has always been known for its unique marketing strategies. Back in 2015, the chain came up with black buns dyed with bamboo charcoal in Japan. They used this strategy to offset the company’s limited advertisement budget in Japan and was well-received by people. Recently, the launch of their $1 Your Way menu was announced by depositing $1 in select customers’ Venmo accounts. This stunt was to encourage the customers to try out their new $1 menu. Burger King generates revenues through three main sources; franchises, leased properties, and company-operated restaurants. The highest profit earning source remained the franchising as they constitute around 90% of Burger King’s outlets. However, in 2020, the company’s systemwide sales fell 11% to $20.038 billion from $22.921 billion in 2019. As of 2020, Burger King has 17,800 stores in over 100 countries.

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Disclosure: None. 10 Biggest Fast-Food Chains in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.