fast food

Most outlets in the top 10, except KFC, have lost customers over the past year. Image: KFC

South Africa’s top 10 most-frequented fast food joints

Millions of cash-strapped South Africans are still frequenting their favourite fast food outlets, a survey has revealed.

fast food

Most outlets in the top 10, except KFC, have lost customers over the past year. Image: KFC

Leading South African consumer insights and data firm Eighty20 recently delved into the country’s fast food dining habits.

Utilising data from the Market Research Foundation’s MAPS survey, which represents insights from 20 000 South Africans, the report reveals some telling trends when it comes to the nation’s fast food preferences and consumption patterns.

The survey’s findings indicate that half of South Africa’s adult population, totalling 23.4 million people, purchased fast food over the past year.

Of these, approximately 20 million dined at a fast food outlet in the past month, with 90% frequenting one of the top 10 fast food outlets.

The leaderboard of South Africa’s top 10 fast food outlets hasn’t changed much over the past three years. However, there’s been a noticeable decrease in customers across the board:

Despite a stable number of diners over the past year, customer behaviour has reflected the current economic climate.

“All outlets in the top 10, except KFC, have lost customers, while more affordable options like Pedro’s, Fish and Chip Co, Galito’s, and Honcho’s have gained patrons,” notes Andrew Fulton, Director at Eighty20.

Takeaways on the Top 10 fast food outlets

The report highlights the dominance of chicken as the preferred protein among South Africans, although beef remains a strong contender. The top 10 fast food outlets feature one pizza restaurant (Debonairs) and five primarily beef-focused establishments: McDonald’s, Spur, Burger King, Steers, and Wimpy.

Despite their diverse menus, Wimpy and Spur are grouped with the beef cohort, collectively serving 6.7 million unique customers monthly.

In contrast, the four chicken-focused outlets – KFC, Chicken Licken, Hungry Lion, and Nando’s – serve a staggering 15 million people.

Looking at the latest monthly stats, KFC stands out with over 11 million patrons monthly, with one in four South Africans dining there last month. This number surpasses the combined customer base of six other outlets in the top 10, although Nando’s has a higher percentage of weekly customers.

Factors Influencing fast food choices

South African consumers prioritise good quality food, with 7 million people making this association with Chicken Licken, Debonairs, and Steers.

Value for money and generous portions are also key. Here, there is a strong correlation to Hungry Lion.

Secondary factors include good customer service and convenient locations, which is notable at Steers, Chicken Licken, Debonairs, and Mochachos, the report says.

Spur and Wimpy are known for being kid-friendly (with play areas, toys, and kids’ meals), while McDonald’s is praised for its vibe and family-friendly meal offerings.

According to the survey, delivery services are increasingly popular, with 9 million people ordering in the past year and 1.4 million preferring delivery for takeaways.

Mr D leads over Uber Eats, with McDonald’s, Nando’s, Wimpy, and Burger King being the top choices for delivery. Drive-throughs are favoured at Spur, Nando’s, and McDonald’s.

KFC, Hungry Lion, and Chicken Licken are more likely to see customers ordering at the counter and leaving, while Steers and Debonairs see more counter orders and dine-in customers.