Consumers want food that’s not only fast, but that comes from names they can trust when they’re rushing through shopping malls or fighting through traffic. The proof is in the numbers.
South Africa’s fast food industry is subject to many of the same economic challenges as the economy at large — market saturation, health and safety scandals, rising commodity prices, and energy shortages. Yet the biggest fast food chains in the country show no signs of a slowdown.
Here are 8 of the biggest fast food chains in South Africa.
Chicken Licken is a South African fried chicken chain and one of the only family owned fast food business competing with the corporate-owned ones. Chicken Licken is the largest fried chicken fast food chain in the world that didn’t originate in the U.S. The managing director of Chicken Licken has plans to open an unofficial McDonald’s, over which he is in disputes with the massive U.S. company, according to Law.harvard.edu.
Chesa Nyama—a fast food outlet that brings traditional braai (barbecue) to the franchise world–is another local South Africa-born fast food chain. Mega food corporation Gold Brands owns Chesa Nyama, along with Opa!Pitaland, Chicken Wild Wings, and other franchises. Chesa Nyama, however, is the company’s fastest-growing brand, according to Goldbrands.co.za. The company has plans to grow Chesa Nyama to 500 outlets by 2017.
Nandos is a South Africa-born chain with over 1,000 locations in over 30 countries, including in the Middle East and Canada. The flame-grilled chicken franchise is owned by Nando’s Holdings, a group that also manufacturers grocery items like sauces, spices and marinades. The brand’s famous marinades are available for purchase online, too. The chains vary by location, with some offering just drive-thru services, and others offering the full-service restaurant experience, according to Nandos.co.za.
Fast food group Taste Holdings owns Domino’s locations in South Africa, Scooter Pizza, Zebo’s Chicken Chain and The Fish & Chip Co. The latter its most prolific franchise company. The Sunday Times voted the company Best Fish Brand in the fast food sector in 2012 and 2013. The franchise recently entered into an agreement with Nedbank and Brimstone Investments, according to Fishandchipc.co.za.
Debonairs pizza chain is owned by Famous Foods, the country’s largest fast food and quick service franchise group. As part of a recent expansion plan, Famous Foods has been placing Debonairs pizza outlets inside major supermarket chain Shoprite locations. Similar to how U.S. shoppers might find Pizza Hut outlets inside Target or Kmart, shoppers throughout Africa can find Debonair inside of their most famous one-stop super shop. Debonair’s first Angola outlet opened in 2015 inside a Shoprite in Benguela, according to Howwemadeitinafrica.com.
Wimpy is owned by South Africa’s Famous Brands, and although it has its origins in the U.S., the founder did not trademark the brand. The original Wimpy died with its creator, but the name stuck. Later J. Lyons and Co in the U.K. bought Wimpy and handled it until it became a subsidiary of South African group Famous Brands in 2007. It has been a popular franchise in South Africa since 1967, where it’s found in major shopping mall food courts. There are also branches in the U.K., Ireland, India and France, but it is regarded as a South African brand, according to Wimpys.uk.com.
Steers is a local burger takeout restaurant owned by Famous Brands. Steers has an 8 percent market share of the fast food industry and an impressive 18 percent share of all burger brands. In addition to its 522 South African locations the company has 43 internationally, says Smesouthafrica.co.za. The first Steers was opened by a Greek-South African entrepreneur in 1960 and today has grown to employ over 7,000 people throughout its locations.
The largest fast food chain in South Africa is not a South African-born company but rather the U.S.-based Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC sells 10 percent of South Africa’s commercially grown chicken. Analysts predict poultry consumption will grow by 270 percent in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, so that volume is likely to grow. The franchise grows in sub-Saharan Africa in spite of limitations that the parent company places on franchise owners. Most owners are forced to buy chicken from foreign sources since local ones are not “professional enough for KFC,” according to MotherJones.com.