During the past few decades, fast food has infiltrated almost every nook and cranny of cities all over the World. Mc Donald’s, Domino’s and other such names associated with the fast-food industry are present in almost every country. The beginning of fast food is marked by a handful of hotdogs being sold in South California. Today, those hand full hot dogs have taken over the nation, and there is barely any restaurant that does not sell these fast food items. Apart from restaurants, drive-throughs, stadiums, airports, college campuses and school canteens are all serving fast food items. In 1970, fast food was relatively new. In that year American nation spent almost $6 billion on fast food, today they spend more than $100 billion annually. (Schlosser, n.p).
The growth of fast food industry
The growth of fast food industry all over the world is associated with various different reasons which might have fostered this growth. The first reason was the increase in the hourly wage of an average American. This increase gave them the liberty to spend outside the bare necessities they were used to spend. Another reason was the female entry into the labor market. Women entered the workforce of America in large numbers soon after 1973 which, is considered as the decade of fast-food boom. As the females entered the workforce, there was a need for them to provide their families with quick food which also provided ease for them. (Schlosser, n.p).
The growing demand for fast food has a deep impact on our economy. Today, people are more concerned about quick meals in order to save time. More fast food outlets are opening inside retail stores so that the consumers can do shopping as well as get food at the same time. This reflects the current mentality of time-saving. People do not want to wait for meals or prepare meals that take a lot of time. Instead they want quick meals as both of the parents in more than half of the households in America are working parents. (Jekanowski, n.p).
Reasons for the growth
The growth of the fast-food industry has had an effect on many agricultural industries. The amount of fast food and drinks purchased by hotels and restaurants has increased considerably. According a research, Pizza Hut uses almost 2.5% of the total milk produced in United States in order to meet its cheese requirements. When Pizza hut introduced its stuffed cheese crust pizza, this requirement increased even more and now it required almost 17.5 million pounds of string cheese. (Jekanowski, n.p). Following are the main reasons which fostered the growth of the fast-food sector;
- Increase in the per capita income of the citizens. As people now had more income that could be spent for their convenience, they opted to buy quick and easy meals instead of spending long hours cooking at home.
- Economic growth of the foreign and private industries increased the employment rates in the country and hence fewer people were unemployed. More people were employed means more spending.
- An increase in the population is yet another reason for this growth.
- Even though all of the factors contributed to the growth of the fast-food industry, however the entrance of females into the workforce was a major contributor. As females were now working they wanted quick meals for their family and as both the parents were now earning they were able to afford these fast foods.
- Menu diversification such as increase in consumption of pizzas and burgers which are different varieties of fast food is also a contributor to this growth.
Impact on the economy
The United States economy is increasingly becoming service-oriented. The manufacturing sector also contributes to the economy of a country however the growth of United States economy in the past few decades has had a major contribution from the service sector. The growth in the service sector has been mainly due to the growth of the fast-food industry. People prefer convenience and as fast food industry has been able to provide this one important aspect of any service, therefore it has been rewarded by growth in sales. Vending machines are a common sight and many restaurants now have one or more drive-through for quick and convenient meals. (Jekanowski, n.p).The value of time and a consistent demand for fast food shapes the future of this industry. Earlier fast food was considered to be a novelty. Only people who had considerable wealth could afford to eat such food. However today, it is a significant part of the United States culture.
The growth of fast food has a significant impact on the economy of any country. As mentioned earlier, this industry has increased the demand for many food products such as milk|(which is used for cheese and used in many fast foods) and potatoes. The sales of these food items have increased and hence the sale of the fast foods has also increased. This increase has contributed positively to the economy of the country as it contributes to the growth of the service sector too. (Warsi & Nisa, 11).
Even though the service sector of United States has contributed well to the economy of the country, it has definitely not provided healthy meals for its people. Today, there are various different issues associated with the fast-food industry. Health and obesity-related issues are most important among all these. Studies have shown that fast foods are high-density food which results in obesity. Due to this fast food industry is under a lot of criticism in America. People are now emphasizing more on low-calorie food products. (Warsi & Nisa, 11).
The fast-food industry has changed the lifestyle and lives of people living across various nations. Today only 40% of the total college-going children eat homemade meals. (Warsi & Nisa, 11).The rapid growth of this industry motivates the people to buy fast food as it is quick, cheap and convenient. Even with this increasing sales and growth of this industry there are many issues related to fast foods as mentioned above. Not only has it affects the health of people consuming this category of food but also affects our environment. The contribution of the fast-food industry may be positive in the economy but is definitely negative in the changing lifestyles of people.
Jekanowski, Mark.D (1999). Causes and consequences of fast food sales growth. Food review; food industry. Web.
Schlosser, Eric (1998) Fast-Food Nation: The true cost of America’s Diet. Rolling Stone magazine (USA), Issue 794, September 3rd 1998
Warsi, Khurshid Anwar and Nisa, Syeedun,Food Retailing: Fast Food Industry(2005). Web.