20+ Fascinating US Fast Food Industry Statistics [2023]: Revenue, Trends, And Predictions

By Chris Kolmar
Feb. 27, 2023
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Cite This Webpage Zippia. "20+ Fascinating US Fast Food Industry Statistics [2023]: Revenue, Trends, And Predictions" Zippia.com. Feb. 27, 2023, https://www.zippia.com/advice/us-fast-food-industry-statistics/

Research Summary. Fast food is mass-produced food designed for commercial resale, with a top priority being service speed. Fast food was created as a strategy to accommodate commuters, travelers, and wage workers. Our research team found:

  • The United States has 201,865 fast food restaurant businesses as of 2023

  • The US fast food industry has a market size of $331.41 billion as of 2022.

  • The expected CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of the US fast food industry is 5.1% from 2020-2027.

  • The global fast food industry is worth $907 billion as of 2023.

  • 37% or 50 million Americans consume fast food every day.

For further analysis, we broke down the data in the following ways:
Restaurants | Covid’s Impact | Health | Trends
fast food industry market size by revenue over time

US Fast Food Industry Market Size Over Time

Year Market Size
2022 $331.41B
2021 $322.05B
2020 $301.49B
2019 $310.21B
2018 $299.16B
2017 $288.38B
2016 $275.99B
2015 $260.79B
2014 $241.43B
2013 $233.70B
2012 $230.25B

Fast Food Industry General Statistics

The restaurant industry has always been a giant in the United States. Fast food restaurants are no different. On any given day in America, it’s estimated that 36.6% or 84.4 million adults consume some kind of fast food.

With this kind of data, it’s no wonder this segment of the restaurant industry continues to grow, despite COVID-19’s impact on the US economy. Consider these statistics:

  • The market size of the US fast food industry, measured by revenue, is $331.41 billion in 2022.

    That’s over a quarter trillion a year in revenue. The fast food industry has held a steady increase of about 1.1% for decades. For comparison, in 2000, the fast food industry was worth $239.2 billion.

  • As of 2020, there were 785,316 franchise owners of fast food restaurants in the United States.

    Franchising allows fast food companies to expand at a more rapid pace without needing to use borrowed funds. This also benefits the franchise owner, who benefits from well-run national advertising campaigns, expertise from fast food experts, and other resources individual entrepreneurs may not always have.

  • In general, a meal costs $5 to $7 at a fast food restaurant, however, that price has risen during the pandemic by an average of 6%.

    The average American spends $1,200 for a single individual within a year. The average American household also spends around 10% of its income on fast food over the course of a year.

  • Globally, the fast food industry generated $797.7 billion in revenue in 2021.

    The US might be associated most with fast food dining, but there’s no shortage of fast food success in other countries. Still, 37% of the world’s fast food revenue coming out of America does say a lot about the country’s appetite for this type of dining experience.

Fast Food Restaurant Statistics

No matter where you live, you can expect to see a fast food restaurant in the general vicinity of your location. Fast food restaurants can be in stand-alone areas, but are also often found inside of other, larger stores, malls, or rest stops. Here are some statistics to demonstrate just how big this industry giant is:

  • Hamburger-focused fast-food restaurants take up 31% of the fast-food market.

    When people think of fast food, hamburgers are the first thing that usually comes to mind. Statistics back this up, with nearly 1/3 of American fast food restaurants being primarily focused on hamburgers (like McDonald’s and Burger King). Pizza and sandwiches are the next most common items on the menu.

  • fast food segments by market share

  • Subway is the largest franchised store in the United States, with 20,622 locations across the country.

    The store’s annual U.S. systemwide sales equate to $10.4 billion. California is the state with the most number of Subway locations, with 2,014 locations (10% of all Subway stores).

  • Based on the number of franchised stores, the sandwich fast food restaurant, Subway, takes first place.

    McDonald’s, which most notably sells hamburgers, comes in third place. Coffee and breakfast item fast food vendors, Starbucks and Dunkin’, take 2nd and 4th place respectively.

  • Fast Food Companies Ranked by Number of Locations

    Company Total Locations
    Subway 20,622
    Starbucks 15,866
    McDonald’s 13,438
    Dunkin’ 9,368
    Taco Bell 7,772
    Burger King 7,257
    Pizza Hut 6,850
    Domino’s 6,696
    Wendy’s 5,984
    Dairy Queen 4,341
  • The fast food industry employs approximately 3,450,120 individuals in the United States.

    The mean hourly wage for these employees is $11.80, with the mean annual age coming in at $24,540.

  • There are 6.3 restaurants per 10,000 residents in Alabama—making it the state with the most fast food restaurants in America per capita.

    Nebraska and West Virginia follow with 5.4 and 5.3 restaurants per capita, respectively. As for the lowest fast food restaurants per capita, there are 1.9 restaurants per 10,000 residents in Vermont, making it the state with the least fast food restaurants in America. New Jersey follows with 2.0, New York with 2.1 per capita.

States With the Most Fast Food Restaurants Per Capita

State Restaraunts Per Capita
Alabama 6.3
Nebraska 5.4
West Virginia 5.3
Oklahoma 5.3
Tennessee 5.2

States With the Least Fast Food Restaurants Per Capita

State Restaraunts Per Capita
Vermont 1.9
new Jersey 2
New York 2.1
Mississippi 2.1
Connecticut 2.4

Fast Food Industry and Covid Statistics

COVID-19 has changed the world’s landscape, and unfortunately, most industries are still trying to adjust to survive. The restaurant industry has seen a dramatic impact with the introduction of social distancing, mask-wearing, and restrictions across the states.

However, those restaurants that have provided delivery or drive-through service have had a better competitive advantage than restaurants that only offer sit-down or dine-in service.

  • Restaurant foot traffic and online reservations may have dropped to zero, but online orders for pickup and delivery are booming, up by almost 12% on weekdays.

    Take-out orders are more common on weekends, while online orders are more likely to happen on weekdays. Dinner orders are up 3% (and late-night orders down 11%), while lunch orders have increased 18%.

  • Foot traffic to fast food and casual dining restaurants has decreased 45% and 67%, respectively, since the start of lockdown efforts.

    This shift has caused fast food restaurants to reconsider their staffing priorities and emphasize their dedication to deliveries and drive-through orders.

Fast Food Industry Health Statistics

Fast food has always had a relatively negative reputation, with many acknowledging its convenience while noting the health concerns a fast food meal could bring.

Many organizations attempted advertising campaigns in which they discussed the quality of food and new initiatives to help public opinion of calorie intake. Still, the statistics of fast food health is concerning, indicated by the following statistics:

  • The average adult eats 836 calories per fast food meal and underestimates what they ate by 175 calories.

    It is suggested that a healthy meal for a full-grown adult is anywhere in the ballpark of 500 calories or less. Many fast food restaurants now offer healthier options and can provide nutritional information on their websites or franchise locations.

  • In the past 20 years, hamburgers have expanded by 23%.

    A plate of Mexican food is 27% bigger, while soft drinks have increased in size by 52%. Snacks, whether they be potato chips, pretzels, or crackers, are 60% larger.

Despite COVID-19 or any health concerns, the fast food industry does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. This industry has experienced steady growth and is expected to continue, as demonstrated by these statistics:

  • The market size of the fast food restaurant industry in the US has grown 1.1% per year on average between 2016 and 2021.

    The market size of the fast food restaurant industry is expected to increase 8.9% in 2021. The global fast food market garnered $647.7 billion in 2019 and is estimated to reach $931.7 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 5.1% from 2020 to 2027.

  • The index for food away from home rose 5.8% from 2020-2021.

  • That’s the largest 1-year increase since 1982. Americans clearly missed their ability to dine out over the pandemic, and the sharp increase in demand over 2021 is making up for it.

Fast Food Industry FAQ

  1. How big is the fast food industry in the US?

    The fast food industry in the U.S. is big, being worth $331.41 billion. The fast food restaurant industry in the United States is the 2nd ranked accommodation and food services industry by market size and the 35th largest in the US.

  2. How many fast food restaurants will be in the US in 2021?

    There are 201,865 fast-food restaurant businesses in the US as of 2023. This marks an increase of 2.55% from 2021, when there were around 196,839 fast-food restaurants in the country.

  3. What is the number one fast food chain in the US?

    Depending on the metric, the number 1 fast food restaurant in the US is either Subway or McDonald’s. For example, based on franchised stores, the largest fast food chain is Subway. However, based on average sales per unit, the largest fast food chain in the United States is McDonald’s.

  4. How much is the US fast food industry growing?

    The US fast food industry is growing at an average annual rate of 2.4% per year. Additionally the expected compound annual growth rate of the industry is 4.6% from 2020-2027.


Fast food has come a long way since the first fish and chip shops in Britain in the 1860s. The market caters to a large portion of the United States and offers employment to many who reside within the states. The quick nature in which food is prepared and rapidly served help fast food stand out within the restaurant industry.

The United States has the largest fast food industry globally, and American fast food restaurants can even be found in over 100 countries across the world. Despite health concerns, US adults continue to consume fast food, despite rising costs and the impact of COVID-19. This industry giant shows no sign of stopping its growth any time soon.


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  2. Statista. “Number of franchise establishments in the United States from 2007 to 2020.” Accessed on September 6, 2021.

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  4. Datafiniti. “Ranking Cities With the Most and Least Fast Food Restaurants.” Accessed on September 6, 2021.

  5. Eat This, Not That. “These 4 Fast Food Chains Have Raised Their Prices the Most.” Accessed on September 6, 2021.

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  7. MiQ. “The impact of COVID-19 on eating, restaurants and fast food chains.” Accessed on September 6, 2021.

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  9. ABC News. “Food Portion Sizes Have Grown — A Lot.” Accessed on September 6, 2021.

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  11. Barbeque Lab. “Fast Food Statistics (Updated January 2021).” Accessed on September 7, 2021.

  12. ScrapeHero. “Number of Subway locations in the United States in 2021.” Accessed on September 7, 2021.

  13. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020.” Accessed on September 7, 2021.

  14. Franchise Help. Fast Food Industry Analysis 2020 – Cost Trends. Accessed on December 12, 2021.

  15. IbisWorld. Fast Food Restuarants in the US. Accessed on December 12, 2021.

  16. QSR Magazine. Ranking The Top 50 Fast-Food Chains in America. Accessed on December 12, 2021.

  17. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index Summary. Accessed on December 12, 2021.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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