The quick-service restaurant segment in the United Kingdom is showing signs of growth amidst that country's recession. According to new research from Companiesandmarkets.com, an online business information aggregator, 50.4 percent of all away-from-home meals are consumed at a QSR in the UK. This is up from 47.3 percent in 2010.

The report claims the recession has caused families to cut back on restaurant spending, except at the lower price-point QSRs. The burger and fried chicken QSR categories, in particular, are experiencing more visits — 5.54 billion out of the 11 billion total away-from-home restaurant visits.

Brands that have taken advantage of the traffic gains in the UK include Subway, which plans to open 600 new stores throughout the next three years, creating up to 6,000 jobs. Starbucks plans 300 branches and 5,000 jobs within the next five years.

McDonald´s said it would create 2,500 jobs this year through new outlets, many of which include 24-hour operations. According to the research, the Golden Arches represented the leading brand in the UK QSR industry in 2011, accounting for 16 percent of overall value sales.

Corporate responsibility shift

The report also outlines a shift toward more corporate responsibility efforts among the leading chains in the UK QSR segment, a trend that is expected to continue. For example, in August, Burger King announced it would promote the UK Chief Medical Officers' adult physical activity guidelines via its website, Facebook and iPhone app. The chain also plans to leverage its Burger King crowns and trayliners to get the message across. Burger King also announced a gestation crate-free supplier policy expected to be fully in place by 2017.

McDonald´s launched Fruitizz in May, a fizzy drink consisting of fruit and sparkling water. The new product qualifies as one portion of fruit intake.

By the end of 2010, McDonald´s used only cage-free poultry and free-range eggs and, in 2011, the chain switched to Marine Stewardship Council-certified fish in all European outlets.

Read more about foodservice trends and statistics.

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