Five years ago, the thought that Americans would be lusting after salads to eat along with their drive-thru hamburgers or actively seeking out chains based around lettuce might’ve seemed more than a little far fetched.giphy

Although, today, no industry is booming more than salad chains both in the United States and internationally.

According to The Atlantic, salad shops earned more than $300 million in 2014, with chains like Chop’t, Fresh & Co., and (Kendrick Lamar favorite) Sweetgreen leading the high-end, build-your-own salad market in urban areas like New York and Washington, DC. For these companies, salads aren’t just a means of good-for-you eating, but play into a larger culture of a holistically healthy lifestyle that includes volunteer work (Chop’t donates to numerous charities through “Chop’t Gives Days” each year) and artistic recreation (Sweetgreen hosts the “Sweetlife Festival” each year, featuring acts from The Pixies to Calvin Harris).

The salad trend has international reach as well, with British salad restaurant Tossed seeking 75 million pounds in funding to expanded the hyper-popular chain.

“There has been a real boom, we didn’t have a single competitor that we could identify in the country [in the early 2000s] and now I could probably identify 50,” said Paul Steck, CEO of Saladworks. Steck continues,

“There’s a lot of good regional brands, but there’s no national player. So the race is who’s going to be the national player for salads.”


The salad segment just might be where fast-food restaurants can step up their game. While fancier salad shops are mainly circled around core urban areas and cater to the health-conscious demographic, it could be fast-food chains (who have historially discouraged the purchase of salads) that actually jump start a more national leafy green revolution in suburban and rural areas. For companies like McDonald’s—whose slumping sales and ho-hum marketing strategies have failed to capture the imaginations of new consumers—salads might just be the best way to shake up their approach.

So, fast-food devotees, get ready to grab a side salad with a Whopper on your next drive-thru adventure…or just skip the burger all together.

[via The Atlantic]