U.S. restaurant chains exhibit solid growth in 2006

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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CHICAGO — The 500 largest U.S. restaurant chains had solid growth with a 6% annual sales growth in 2006, according to Technomic Information Services, a food service consulting organization.

System-wide sales for the top 500 are estimated at $212.7 billion for 2006, an increase of nearly $13 billion compared with 2005.

Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Panera Bread had double-digit sales growth during the year, and McDonald’s grew 6% with sales of more than $27.1 billion during the year. Subway dominated the sandwich segment with a 7.5% sales growth and total sales of more than $7.7 billion.

Limited-service chains in the top 500 represented 82% of U.S. "fast-food" restaurants. Quick-casual chains also drove growth with Chipotle and Qdoba Mexican Grill leading the Mexican category and P.F. Chang’s Pei Wei concept and Panda Express topping the Asian category.

In the full-service restaurant category, ethnic Asian and Italian restaurants had strong sales growth. The varied menu category outperformed the segment.

The top 10 fastest-growing chains, which includes Odoba Mexican Grill, Famous Dave’s and Bonefish Grill, had sales of $4.8 billion, a 36% increase compared with 2005.

"As the U.S. economy continued to struggle against rising gas prices, aggressive chain restaurant unit expansion and menu price increases fueled the top 500 to outperform the restaurant industry at large, which grew 5.9%," said Darren Tristano, managing director of Technomic.

International growth among the top 100 was strong with international sales outpacing U.S. sales.

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