FAST FOOD INDUSTRY IN PAKISTAN
Research Analyst, PAGE
Mar 1 - 7, 2010
Fast food is prepared and served quickly at outlets commonly known as fast-food restaurants. It is a multibillion dollar industry which continues to grow rapidly in Pakistan as well as in many other countries.
A fast food restaurant is characterized both by food which is supplied quickly after ordering, and by prompt service delivery. In such restaurants, fast food is often cooked in bulk in advance and kept warm, or reheated upon order. Many fast food restaurants are branches of international restaurant chains or franchises. Standardized foodstuffs are shipped to each restaurant from central locations. There are stands or kiosks in some restaurants.
Since fast-food restaurant is a profitable business, even in areas with medium income population, small fast-food restaurants have become common throughout the country. Generally restaurants, where the customers sit down and are served with foods, are also considered fast food.
Fast food is a growing industry in Pakistan capitalizing on the rapidly changing lifestyles, population growth of youngsters, and increase in working women.
In the midst of today's hustles and bustles of big cities and busy life, time-saving products are increasingly in demand, the most obvious being the fast food. Demand for convenience has driven expenditures where people want quick and convenient meals. They do not want to spend a lot of time preparing meals, traveling to pick up meals, or waiting for meals in restaurants. As a result, consumers rely on fast food. Knowing this, fast food providers are coming up with new ways to market their products that save time for consumers. Consumers want to combine meal-time with the time engaged in other activities such as shopping, work, or travel, therefore allocating less time for food.
The fast-food industry is popular in Pakistan. Many major international chains are based in the country. Multinational fast food chains like McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway etc. cater to the high income segment therefore developing a niche as upscale fast food restaurants.
Multinational corporations such as these typically modify their menus to cater to local Pakistani tastes and most overseas outlets are owned by native franchisees to ensure that cultural, ethnic, and community values are taken care of.
Additionally, multinational fast-food chains are not the only or even the primary source of fast food in most cities across the country.
Many regional and local chains have developed around the main cities (for example Khan Broast in Karachi) to compete with international chains and provide menu items that appeal to the unique regional tastes and habits at comparatively low costs.
In Pakistan, offers of multinational chains are considerably over expensive. Such restaurants are frequented usually because they are considered chic and somewhat glamorous and because they usually are much cleaner than local eateries. However middle-income segment, which forms a major chunk of fast food eaters, prefers visiting local outlets that offer low priced fast food.
The rapid rate at which the fast food industry is growing is an evidence of the rising consumer demands for convenience and for fast food itself.
Expanding the number of outlets increases accessibility, thus making it more convenient for consumers to purchase fast food. Especially in recent years, much of the expansion has been in the form of 'satellite' outlets. These tend to be smaller in size, with little or no seating capacity, and are often in nontraditional locations, such as office buildings, department stores, airports, and gasoline stations; locations chosen specifically to maximize convenience and consumer accessibility.
According to the latest international studies, fast food is especially high in fat content. Studies have found associations between fast food intake and increased body mass index (BMI) and weight gain. A regular meal at fast food consists of a hamburger, large fries, and a large drink amounting to 1430 calories. A diet of approximately 2000 calories is considered a healthy amount of calories for an entire day.
Besides the dangers of extra fats, high calories, and low fiber, there is another health risk that is food poisoning. Meatpacking has also become one of the most hazardous jobs with the risk of injury being three times higher than any other factory work. The meatpacking factories concentrate livestock into large feedlots and herd them through processing assembly lines operated by poorly trained employees, which increase the risk of large-scale food poisoning.
Children who eat fast food, compared with those who do not, consume more total fat, carbohydrates, and sugar-sweetened beverages. Children who eat fast food also eat less fiber, milk, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables. Consumption of fast food by children seems to have a negative effect on diet, in a way that could significantly increase the risk of obesity.
FUTURE OF THE INDUSTRY
Pakistani economy is becoming increasingly service-oriented, and over the past several decades, the foodservice industries that offer the highest levels of convenience have been rewarded with strong sales growth. In the wake of rising population, incomes and increasingly hectic work schedules, a nearly insatiable demand for convenience will continue to drive fast food sales. Fast food outlets will strive to find ways to make their products even more accessible and health oriented.