These are the fast food trends to look out for in 2023
- Experts predict customers will demand more value options on menus in 2023.
- Chicken sandwich offerings will likely grow as chicken prices drop.
2022 was a year of implementing new technology in fast food and emphasizing drive-thru and mobile ordering. Those aren't going away, but there are other trends on the horizon. Here's what you should look out for in 2023.
1. Fast food menus will emphasize value
Value is always part of what attracts consumers to fast food, but it becomes even more important in an atmosphere of inflation and rising prices. In a recession, consumers are likely to tighten their belts further, CEO and president of Kalinowski Equity Associates Mark Kalinowski told Insider. "People want to feel like they're getting a good value."
Fast food chains likely will introduce menu items "to provide the value customers want," he told Insider. Kalinowski pointed to Taco Bell as a chain with a history of menu items popular with customers while giving the chain high margins.
He "wouldn't be surprised" if Taco Bell brought back $2 menu items in early 2023.
2. Variations on chicken sandwiches
Fried chicken sandwiches and new variations on the chicken sandwich will be one of the biggest trends in the new year, according to a survey of more than 500 industry experts conducted by the National Restaurant Association.
Chicken breast prices in the US are down 70% from their peak in June, The Wall Street Journal reported, while thighs and wings are also down, meaning they now offer much more attractive margins for chains.
Major QSR chains already are signaling plans to embrace chicken sandwiches again. On November 15, Popeyes released its new Blackened Chicken Sandwich. The chain is explicitly promoting the new sandwich as "reigniting the chicken sandwich wars," which started with the 2019 release of the Popeyes spicy chicken sandwich. Burger King and Wendy's also are promoting new chicken sandwiches.
Nostalgic brands and menu items will be big in 2023, according to Yelp's predictions from data scientists and trend experts.
Some chains already had success channeling adults' nostalgia this year, like McDonald's sold out adult Happy Meal boxes, and Taco Bell bringing back the enchirito. Nostalgic characters and menu offerings are appealing to restaurants for two reasons, because they can appeal to adults who already remember the original promotions, and introduce them to a new generation of consumers, Kalinowski previously told Insider.
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