The six fastest growing emerging restaurant brands heading into 2022 all specialise in chicken, new research shows.
The latest ‘Ones to Watch’ report from foodservice analyst Peter Backman identifies the fastest growing emerging restaurant in the full service and quick service segments using two specific measures: brands must have between five and 25 outlets, and outlet numbers must have grown by at least 20% over the past three years.
Mr Backman said that a “remarkable” finding from the latest study is that the main offer from the six fastest growing brands is – or at least includes – chicken.
They are Thunderbird, Wingstop, Frankster’s, Franzos, Slim Chickens and Rio’s Piri Piri.
Mr Backman said that while chicken has been a staple of the UK foodservice sector for a long time – as demonstrated by the dominant positions of Nando’s and KFC – the results provide further confirmation of the “chickenisation” of the market.
“Chicken has many things going for it,” wrote Mr Backman in his latest blog post. “It is environmentally friendly – or at least it doesn’t burp; it is, or it is perceived to be, healthy; being generally low in flavour by itself (at least given the ways in which chickens are reared for mass consumption) it acts as a potent carrier for added flavour.
“And chicken comes in many varieties too – coated and fried at KFC, smothered in peri peri sauce at Nando’s (and now in many other places too). It comes as chicken wings – formerly Buffalo wings, not from some magical breed of flying cattle but because it originated in a town of that name in upstate New York.”
Chicken also requires less processing than the ubiquitous burger, noted Mr Backman. “Pound for pound it is cheaper than red meat. And it appeals to all ages and demographics.”
Mr Backman said it would be intriguing to see where the chicken market goes from here.
“What new flavours? What new formats? Will it continue to be an ever larger feature larger on our menus? Or has it reached peak chicken? Is it only downhill from here? We’ll have to wait and see for the answers but my money is on more of it for quite a while.”
Previous research from Mr Backman revealed that chicken now features as the main product from 62% of newly-created dark kitchens in the past year.