Infographic: What’s hot in fast-casual

by Monica Watrous
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CHICAGO — With a 13% increase in sales last year, the $31 billion fast-casual segment is expected to continue outpacing quick-service and casual dining restaurants, said Chicago-based Technomic, Inc.

View the infographic for a breakdown of the fast-casual segment by menu category:

“Consumers today want quality offerings made quickly,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president of Technomic. “Segments like burger, sandwich and Mexican have done a great job delivering on quality, fresh, gourmet and made-on-demand offerings.”

Leading the way among Technomic’s Top 150 fast-casual chains are bakery cafes, which achieved U.S. system-wide sales of $6.1 billion in 2012, up more than 10% from last year. Mexican and sandwich categories follow, with $5.7 billion and $4.4 billion in sales, respectively.

Top fast-casual chains span a number of menu categories, mostly comprised of sandwich, bakery cafe and Mexican restaurants. Less saturated categories are burger, chicken, Asian/noodle and pizza. Salad, barbecue, Italian and other ethnic cuisines each represented a smaller fraction of the fast-casual segment.

“There are still areas of growth in the fast-casual segment for operators to adopt these ingredients for success and become viable in the fast-casual landscape,” Mr. Tristano said.
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