South Africa

South Africa’s most popular fast-food outlets

South Africa’s most popular fast food outlet is KFC, with 10 million South Africans saying they bought food there in the past four weeks, followed by Chicken Licken, Debonairs, and McDonald’s. 

This was revealed in research by Cape Town-based consultancy firm Eighty20, which asked respondents which fast food outlets they have bought food from in the past four weeks. 

The research also shows that while restaurants and coffee shops have battled since Covid-19 and are still around 22% below 2019 revenue, the takeaway and fast-food category recovered quickly after the pandemic and is now 41% above 2019 levels. 

These two categories accounted for R3.9 billion and R2.8 billion in income, respectively, for August 2023, according to the latest StatsSA Food and Beverage Statistical Release.

Despite South Africa’s current economic woes, these categories have consistently grown over the last three years since the Covid-19 pandemic. 

However, this growth has stalled for restaurants over recent months, with July and August showing more than a 4% contraction year-on-year. 

Fast food, on the other hand, has continued to grow in real terms. The fast-food category was a third of the size of the restaurant category pre-Covid, but now it is more than two-thirds the size – showing just how much consumers’ purchasing behaviour has changed.

The most popular fast-food outlets

The top 10 most popular fast food outlets are KFC, Chicken Licken, Debonairs, McDonald’s, Hungry Lion, Spur, Nando’s, Burger King, Steers, and Wimpy. 

However, the top three – KFC, Chicken Licken, and Debonairs – decreased in popularity in the past year, while McDonald’s, Spur, Nando’s and Wimpy grew.

Chicken, burgers, and pizza make up an estimated two-thirds of all fast food spending, with chicken dominating fast food preferences in South Africa, Eighty20 said. 

The top 10 list of fast-food outlets, according to MAPS 2023, has one pizza restaurant, three burger joints and four chicken eateries. 

KFC is dominant, topping the list overall and beating out the chicken competition by some distance. More than a quarter of respondents purchase from KFC every four weeks.