American restaurant chains are looking to Mexican menu items to drive sales, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. Taco Bell, not Pizza Hut or KFC, has been Yum! Brands’ most profitable chain for years, and Taco Bell now accounts for 60 percent of Yum’s U.S. operating profits. And, according to this report by the Associated Press, in the U.S., tortillas outsell burger and hot dog buns, tortilla chips outsell potato chips, and salsa tops ketchup. In other words, Planet Taco is the future.
Thanks to the success of Doritos Locos Tacos and the chain’s Cantina Menu, Taco Bell’s sales have been up for seven consecutive quarters. All numbers support the fact that the popularity of Mexican food in the U.S. is on the rise.
“Data from food researcher Technomic shows that sales at Mexican-style restaurants grew 9.3 percent in 2012, outpacing the 5.8 percent increase among all limited-service restaurants,” reports Bloomberg. Mexican quick-service restaurants offer “high value and appeal with millennial consumers and affluent groups,” says an Executive VP at Technomic.
While sales at Mexican fast food and limited-service restaurants are on the upswing, the burger business is hurting. “McDonald’s same-store sales grew only 0.7 percent last quarter, Wendy’s was up 0.4 percent, and Burger King fell 0.5 percent,” reports Bloomberg.
Chili’s is also looking to Mexican food menu items to save its declining sales. The casual dining chain’s CEO says, “When you look at taco, quesadillas, fajitas, that category represents really the biggest category that we have at Chili’s. Bigger than burgers.”