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Why is there not more healthy fast food chains?

mr4ffe

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Nov 3, 2018
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Fast Food and Healthy Just Don't Go Together

Healthy Food is more expensive.

The restaurant managers can't have fast service with healthy food because they have to be careful not to waste food. That means not rushing it like McDonald's does. I used to work at a McDonald's and the amount of wrong orders skyrocket during peak times. The cooks and the line workers have to be fast and mistakes are made. That means people coming back to get replacements and the first order has to go in the trash. Also the employees dropping food, making the same thing twice, etc. To be fast you must be willing to sacrifice pounds of food a year.

The "health" crowd also means that you'll have to be transparent from where you source your food. You won't be buying the food from this mega farms most fast food restaurants buy their food from. Why? Because this mega farms have unhealthy practices. All that matters to them is quantity over quality that allows them to lower their price. They use pesticices, growth hormones, gmo, and non eco friendly growing techniques. People who actively seek "healthy" restaurants will have higher standards then your average McDonald's customer.
I don't see this as an obstacle. That just means you can charge more for the food. You could make your whole brand image Tegridy Farms-like. Like you're an honest and humble brand with locally-sourced food that stands up for human and animal rights and donates a percentage to planting trees or saving the turtles or whatever. Have a lot of vegan options on the menu (beans and lentils), but also some chicken, turkey, and fish for the meat-eaters/freegans/flexitarians.

Edit: Here's an example of a real ad like that. And here's another. And a third while we're at it.
 

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Scot

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The problem with current “healthy food” chains is almost all of them are fast casual, think Chipotle.

There are no healthy handheld options available. I work out of my car, and I can’t drive down the highway with a burrito bowl or a salad. Trust me, I’ve tried.

The real money maker will be for someone to create a drive through, handheld healthy option.
 

Seamster

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I didn't ready any posts except the OP, but I can for sure say there are very, VERY few options that are my opinion of healthy. I want low carb, low calories. So, besides your ubiquitous salad with chicken breast on it, all that's available is a chicken burrito bowl Chipotle/Qdoba (good luck getting their hands to not automatically add a pound of beans and the unhealthy cheese sauce and rice), Taco Bell, etc., Wendy's chili (you'd have to eat 2), or by ordering a bunch of Egg McMuffins, etc, and eating only the egg and ham.

The healthiest I can do and feel satisfied on a budget is a mom & pop diner's 3 eggs over easy and 2 pieces of wheat toast without butter, putting jam on the last 1/2 piece of toast. That meal with coffee is 5-600 calories and for some reason satisfies me .
 

Mutant

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Where do you live in the UK?

In London there are 1000s of healthy fast food restaurants. It seems like they don’t branch out of London due to many reasons. I’d say the biggest being the number of high earners in London.

The UK has such a big foodie start up
scene. If something isn’t happening then there’s a high chance that someone has tried and failed. I’m not saying it won’t work but I researched this exact same idea a few years back and opted against it after a bit of research. My business is still within the food industry. Just not that side of it.

Maybe have a look at the LEON business model.
Took the words right out of my mouth. Where are you?

In London, off the top of my head I can think of:

Leon - literally marketed as healthy fast food
Crussh - love grabbing their jackfruit tinga & a cup of bone broth
Whole Foods - their hot food bar
Planet Organic - also their hot food bar - they're basically Whole Foods
Tossed - you can order from an app, or their in store touchscreen terminals - just like McDonalds!
Chop'd - salad place, seems a bit like Tossed
Pure - I hope you're clicking through to all these websites & sensing a theme :smuggy:
Protein Haus - someone was mentioning protein as a specific angle?
Simple Health Kitchen - eh, you get the idea

Not to mention all the chain sandwich bars, East Asian places, etc. will all be emphasising whatever health credentials they have (Pret, Eat, Joe & the Juice, Abokado, Itsu, etc.) - sample copy (from Abokado):
Our new range of Nourishing Noodle Salads are perfect for lunch on the go and definitely #notjustforgymbunnies! Choose from Chargrilled Chicken & Miso, Surimi & Poached Egg, Chicken Katsu or Vegan Katsu. Served on our nourishing rice noodle and kale base, you can customise your dish with our complimentary dressings and ‘posh your pot’ toppings such as crispy shallots & fresh coriander, lime and chilli.


As these all tend to be geared towards lunch (& breakfast), they're often quick grab, pre-made/quickly made places. Some are open late enough to grab food after work too.

Healthy, organic, caters to dietary requirements including vegan, sustainable, locally sourced, fresh, etc. etc. Even many of our indulgences have to be presented well (eg Honest Burgers) It's all very 2019 up in here.

The question is, what year is it in the rest of the UK? If you're noticing an absence wherever you are, is it because there's an unmet demand? Or because the trend hasn't got as big yet? Or because the average local wages will never stretch to hipster food like those working in Central London?

I remember seeing a branch of Fresh & Wild (basically Whole Foods) close down in Bristol back in 2008 Fresh and Wild closes store as consumers reject organic for cheaper deals
Tl;dr - Economics trump health
Fwiw - timing to the party was bad, but actually I bet they'd be doing just dandy if they were there today. Currently in the same spot? A Waitrose (translation - a posh supermarket, not as quite as pricey & niche as Whole Foods, but the fanciest "regular" supermarket we've got here). People right now (in certain areas at least!) have the money, & the appetite.

Will it last? I think the trend towards healthier is long lasting, not a just a fad, but it will be interesting to see how that gets shaped by the next recession.
 

zblundell

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I cannot voucher for other states, but here in Louisiana, I am willing to pay between 20-45 dollars so that I do not have to cook. If you open a mom and pop healthy restaurant, you will do well, but never be rich. The key is franchising healthy restaurants and it will be difficult to offer fresh ingredients to customers quickly, but not impossible. I would do the vegan/health restaurant like MJ suggested, but take online/phone orders only. Most times people do not want to sit down at a restaurant to eat a meal after working all day during the week. You could name it Call-Ins and serve whatever you want that is the healthier alternative to burgers and wings. You would not need a huge restaurant or large staff because you are not entertaining customers. Just some ideas. Good luck!
 

LittleWolfie

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The problem with current “healthy food” chains is almost all of them are fast casual, think Chipotle.

There are no healthy handheld options available. I work out of my car, and I can’t drive down the highway with a burrito bowl or a salad. Trust me, I’ve tried.

The real money maker will be for someone to create a drive through, handheld healthy option.
There are plenty of healthy wraps. That can be held in two hands. Or an oven cooked vegeburger. Or a cold jacket potato. Or a sandwich. A Cornish pasty. In the traditional manner. Not the high fat,corn sryup American cheese & onion pastie.

Will you order it 2 hous ahead of time though?
 

Scot

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There are plenty of healthy wraps. That can be held in two hands. Or an oven cooked vegeburger. Or a cold jacket potato. Or a sandwich. A Cornish pasty. In the traditional manner. Not the high fat,corn sryup American cheese & onion pastie.

Will you order it 2 hous ahead of time though?
I guess it depends on your definition of healthy. None of those to me are “healthy” as they’re still carb heavy.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Is it possible to make healthy food fast?
Hello, welcome to Fresh Fast may I take your order?
Yes, I'll have a banana and a bag of cashews.


Boom, healthy and fast.
 

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LittleWolfie

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I guess it depends on your definition of healthy. None of those to me are “healthy” as they’re still carb heavy.
How about bell peppers? Totally handholdable. Empty and stuff. Then eat like an apple. Or cut in half and turn in to a healthy pizza. They smell incredibly like pizza.

9g carb on the pepper.

How about turkey & feta flavour? Kale, ricotta and egg?
 

srodrigo

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I guess it depends on your definition of healthy. None of those to me are “healthy” as they’re still carb heavy.
Okinawan and Mediterranean diets are carb heavy, and are amongst the healthiest diets ever, probed empirically with hordes of 85+ people. Carbs from whole grains are not a problem.
 

JWM

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There's a small chain in Australia called Spud Bar. They do baked potato, plain or sweet. With all kinds of meat and vegetable toppings options and such. Kind of like the subway of baked potatoes. Its my healthy go to option if i'm out and need to get a quick lunch. Google them and check it out for ideas
 

loop101

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Another big trend in healthy eating is - not eating. Fasting, Intermittent Fasting, OMAD, Warrior Diet, etc. Instead of controlling the quality of what they eat, people are controlling how often they eat. It's simpler, you eat whatever you want, and there are less dishes to clean. After going on OMAD, I went from buying groceries twice a week, to buying them once every 2 weeks. I'd buy them monthly if they stayed fresh longer. I was Starvin Marvin the first week on OMAD, but I don't get hungry anymore, not even at mealtime. Simply not eating is probably not easy to monetize, so it doesn't get a lot of advertising. You could probaly write the world's shortest weight-loss book on it, "Eat 1 hour a day, that's it! - The End."
 

Abrodos

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In Barcelona there are a couple healthy fast-food places. They're called Veritas and Nostrum (I suppose the latin names connect to the mediterranean diet.
They basically sell packaged dishes for either 1€, 2€, or 3€. So you can have a full meal for less than 10€ (the usual daily menu here is 11-15€).
Most people are accustomed to preparing their meal tupperwares and eating them in a park or in the workplace/university dining room, so these businesses are more about selling packaged meals rather than a place to eat.
 

IlseVdG

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I'm not an expert at all in this subject, but I just want to pitch in because this question is very interesting! For what it's worth, these are my thoughts.

If you can provide for food that is
- cheap
- healthy
- tasty
- easy to get (proximity, delivery, ...)
than you can WIN! This is such a need, I think, right now, for everyone. Most of us want to spare time, yet still eat healthy and not spend to much money on it.

Personnally, I'm on a journey of less is more for what food is concerned. I was looking to lose some pounds, which isn't easy after 40. Then I read an article about fasting. It stated that we humans can do with a lot less food than we actually think. Just as @loop101 mentioned. That made totally sense to me. Now I eat nothing till 11 am. Then I eat some home made stuff while I'm working at my desk, which is basically some sugerless cake that I made. Just with eggs, water, oat flour (or other kinds of gluten free flour), oat bran, nuts sometimes, or apples, of black olives... It varies, I make it in a few minutes and then shove it in the oven and that's it. I's all very experimental. Some collegeaus ask me: "What are you eating? Earth?" :) But for me, it's just perfect, as long as my belly is full (I'm not hungry till 7 pm and I lose weight!), and I don't lose too much time and money on it. I find it very easy and nutritious. And I like having control over the ingredients. As for liquids: I drink water with fresh lemon juice all through the day at work. I find this to be a very good invention: Amazon.com: Zing Anything Citrus Zinger 2 Pack - Green: Baby.

Second meal is at night. Then I put some more effort and time in it. If I would have a nearby 'food wall' (like for instance HEALTH FOOD WALL) that provides for meals that are tasty yet simple and very affordable, I would be hooked! I don't have that right now! I live in a small village nearby a bigger city. A few kilometers from where I live is a health food automat with prices starting from 10 EUR. That's too much for me to convince me to drive all the way over and buy it.

So just from my personal experience (not from market study) I really think there is room in the market there. If you would just find a way to simplify the recepies (the simpler, the less risk for allergies, and for instance for me, for digestion problems, and the more you can cut costs) and still keep things fairly tasty.. that would be so awesome! I would market it as no-nonsense food. Just food.

There's also a great environmental and humanitarian argument for that simplicity. More and more, people are sensitive to that argument. I am. It just feels good, physically as well as spiritually, not to overdo it all the time.

That being said, I also really appreciate a fine meal in a fine restaurant from time to time. I LOVE fine food. But right now I'm prioritizing the ways I spend my money, and this food thing is way below my list. It might be different in a couple of years. :)

Good luck!
 
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AustinS28

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We have a lot of healthy “fast food” options here in Manhattan - SweetGreen, Fresh and Co, Dig Inn, Between the Bread...just to name a few. The salad craze has taken off. The place sweetgreen, if you don’t preorder online you can be standing on line for 30+ minutes during lunch hours.

These places have a much higher price point than McDonalds and the reason it works in a city like New York is that amount of income people make here is high. It’d be harder to do well nationwide.

What places are in London? I’m sure they have fast food lunch spots like the healthy ones I mentioned here. Otherwise, if that’s not the case then I do believe opening up something like a sweetgreen over there would be a hit.
 

rollerskates

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The problem with current “healthy food” chains is almost all of them are fast casual, think Chipotle.

There are no healthy handheld options available. I work out of my car, and I can’t drive down the highway with a burrito bowl or a salad. Trust me, I’ve tried.

The real money maker will be for someone to create a drive through, handheld healthy option.
Not sure if this'll help, but I can eat almost nothing at fast food places because of everything that's hidden in stuff, "healthy" option or not. I do massive amounts of food prep, and for road food, I cut up turkey breast into cubes, then there are grapes, carrots, peppers, cheese cubes, etc. It get monotonous, but I don't feel like crap, so there is that.

I agree there needs to be a handheld healthy option available for drive thru purchase, though. Not sure how this would be implemented because they never seem very popular when people are given choices. So like I said, food prep.
 

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UnrealCreative

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I guess it depends on your definition of healthy. None of those to me are “healthy” as they’re still carb heavy.
Jimmy John's does lettuce wraps like this.
Handheld, Not heavy on carbs, only JJ goodness...
28555

Only issue is when the damn thing falls apart.
 

Scot

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MichaelCash

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Fast food is not very healthy in general. But even in MacDonalds you still have choice. Don't buy a meal, but eat only a burger without fries and soda.

If you want to research this market, look at Freshii - it is quite popular in the US. Also, I often see places where you can eat only different types of salads

I would say it is a good idea, but it is a pretty competitive environment. Also it is hard to start a business like this
 

Pinnacle

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Not sure about you guys/girls across the pond, but here in the UK, there is barely any places to get a quick healthy meal ...

So many times I'm out and about, and I just want a healthy nutritious meal on the go, but the only places available for quick meals are Mcdonalds, KFC etc ...

Why is this?

It's got me thinking that a healthy fast food place would fit MJ's CENTS model nicely?

C - I'd be in control.

E - Barrier to entry is not insanely high but it would be by no means easy

N - There is definitely a need. I currently work in sales/marketing for the fitness industry and I've spoken to many people who speak about the same problem (not being able to get a healthy nutritious meal on the go)

T - Eventually with finding the right staff you could have a competent manager running the store

S - It's scalable via opening more or going the franchise route.

I have a woman in my network who runs a successful healthy meal prep company catering corporate offices delivering them healthy lunch meals - so she could give me some guidance along the menu/product/operations side of thing.

And I could run the sales/marketing side of things.

What do you all think?

Am I missing something as to why this has not been done more here in the UK?

Thanks in advance!

Scott
Can't speak for the UK, but healthy food is expensive and you would need very targeted marketing to get qualified foot traffic in the door.

Facebook messenger marketing may do the trick.
 

oa92

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Personally I'd like to see a fast-food chain directed towards gym goers.

I guess it would have to be naturally healthy anyway, but the focus could be on how much protein/carbs/calories the food contains.

You could set these these up close to busy gyms so people could get decent pe or post workout meals easily.
 

ZF Lee

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Hello, welcome to Fresh Fast may I take your order?
Yes, I'll have a banana and a bag of cashews.


Boom, healthy and fast.
Found this pretty amusing, in a world where eating healthily seems to be ignored everywhere, especially in my college environment.

I find it hard to pick bananas though.

They tend to spike them with the ripening chemicals plus pesticides.

One time, I threw out an entire banana because not only the scent smelled like artificial makeup, or lab esters- my tongue started to ache when I bit into one.

These days I pick bananas that aren't 100% yellow, with black spots already coming out all over, meaning that it's more likely than not to be relatively untouched, but how can I tell anyways?

I'm ok with apples or kiwis. These days a carton of kiwis come with a plastic spoon to dig into the fruit.
 

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