Fast food combo meals are not nearly as popular as they used to be, according to a new report by market research firm The NPD Group. The meals are down about one billion servings since 2007 -- consumers purchased eight billion combo meals in 2011, but nine billion were sold in the same period five years prior.
The NPD Group attributes several reasons to this decline: people are interested in smaller meals, there are more and better value offerings, the price is too high and the meal composition is not enticing. It's the side items specifically that customers are generally dissatisfied with.
Bonnie Riggs, an NPD restaurant industry analyst, sees hope for the future of combo meals though, but they might need to go through a revamp. "Even with the combo meal decline, there is still a large group of consumers who would order the meals, which means there is an opportunity to renew their interest by giving them what they want," she says in a press release.
She tells Time that among 18-to-34 year olds, combo meals simply aren't as cheap as other options, like the dollar menu. Also "you can 'bundle' from the value menu and it is a cheaper price," she says.
So basically, people want the best value they can get, and they also want to be able to choose what goes into their meals. So is it possible to update the combo meal to include both value and customization? Some chains are certainly seeing benefit in putting the power in consumer choice.
The Cheesecake Factory's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake
1,540 calories 59 grams of saturated fat
IHOP's Monster Bacon 'N Beef Cheeseburger
1,250 calories 42 grams of saturated fat 1,590 milligrams of sodium
Denny's Fried Cheese Melt
Four fried mozzarella sticks and melted American cheese grilled between two slices of sourdough bread. 1,260 calories 21 grams of saturated fat 3,010 milligrams of sodium
The Cheesecake Factory's Farmhouse Cheeseburger
Topped with grilled smoked pork belly, cheddar cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo and a fried egg. 1,530 calories 36 grams of saturated fat 3,210 milligrams of sodium
Coldstone Creamery's PB&C Shake
24 fluid ounces of peanut butter, chocolate and milk. 2,010 calories 68 grams of saturated fat
Applebee's Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs With Fettuccine
1,520 calories 43 grams of saturated fat 3,700 milligrams of sodium
Great Steak's King Fries
Philly Whiz, chopped bacon, and sour cream & chives (extra large order) 1,500 calories 4,980 milligrams of sodium 33 grams of saturated fat
Morton's 24-Ounce Porterhouse Steak
1,390-calories 36 grams of saturated fat 1,200 milligrams of sodium