Fast-casual restaurants grabbing market share from fast-food, causal dining chains as consumers look for higher quality, cheaper foods; fast-casual segment tripled market share to 6% of restaurants in last decade

LOS ANGELES , December 23, 2011 () – Fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread Co. are grabbing market share from fast-food chains including Taco Bell, Subway, and Wendy’s, The Lost Angeles Times reported Dec. 22.

The hybrid fast-casual sector is fancier than fast-food options but less expensive than sit-down alternatives, which is quickly making it one of the food industry’s strongest sectors.

The category is leveraging the growing demand for healthy, specialty foods with the ability to provide quick service and moderate prices. Fast-casual is taking fast-food customers looking for higher quality foods while also getting sit-down diners who are looking for cheaper eats, according to NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs.

There is seemingly infinite growth potential for fast-casual restaurants as they have met value expectations of consumers more than most fast-food places, Riggs said.

While fast-casual segment is still only a fraction of the industry, it has tripled its market share to about 6% of restaurants in roughly the last decade. The segment is only one in the industry to see growth in the last five years, according to analysts.

Major fast-casual chains made US$18.9 billion in 2010, a 6% increase, according to Technomic.

The primary source of this article is The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 22, 2011.

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