Ireland’s appetite for fast food continues to grow

Our appetite for fast food is still on the rise despite the obesity crisis, according to a new report.

The nation forks out €264 per head of population on takeaways such as pizza and pizza — up 19% since 2012.

Figures from Euromonitor International show fast food has risen steadily in popularity over the past five years.

“Fast food, overall, continued to see healthy growth rates in 2017, in spite of pressure caused by health concerns,” the Euromonitor 2018 report on Ireland’s fast food industry said.

The report showed that Ireland is number 11 in the world when it comes to splashing out on fast food. However, it pales in comparison to the US, which spends more than any other country on fast food — three times as much as Ireland.

Australia is in second place, with Canada in third place and Britain in 8th.

However, the report said the concerns over the obesity crisis in Ireland have increased the popularity of chicken on fast food menus.

“Chicken fast food is increasingly perceived as a healthier alternative to burger fast food,” said the Euromonitor report.

“Irish consumers are participating in sports more often and increased education around the relative health properties of chicken helped to increase its popularity.”

It added there were low food miles associated with chicken as an ingredients as poultry production is a large part of Irish agriculture.

“Consequently, chicken fast food continues to perform strongly, with international chains like Nando’s gaining value shares,” said the report.

The report noted that restriction on fast food outlets or ‘no-fry zones’ could hinder the growth of outlets.

“There was evident pressure on fast food in 2017, as Wicklow County Council voted to introduce a “no fry’ zone within 400 metres of all schools in the county,” said the report.

It said the move came in response to huge public pressure following a fast food chain’s intention to open a new outlet close to a school. “

There is growing pressure on all councils in Ireland to adopt similar measures”, Euromonitor said.

“Each council retains the right to issue a trading permit on an individual basis, but the government is reviewing proposals to make ‘no fry’ zones mandatory,” it said.

“The move is being hotly contested by trade associations, which may delay nationwide implementation.

“However, given the huge numbers of Irish schools, such a move would make expansion very difficult for fast food outlets.”

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