These 20 chains dominate the fast-food industry

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Taco Bell ranks in the top five, according to Technomic’s data. Irene Jiang / Business Insider
  • McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Chick-fil-A lead the US’ fast-food scene, according to Technomic data reported by Restaurant Business magazine.
  • The top 20 chains in terms of 2019 US sales are responsbile for the majority of the industry’s growth.
  • Here are the rest of the chains at the top of the fast-food industry.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A handful of chains dominate the American fast-food scene.

According to data compiled by Technomic and reported by Restaurant Business magazine, the top 20 chains in the US – in terms of 2019 sales – were responsible for three-fourths of the industry’s total sales growth last year.

Technomic created a list of the top 500 chains in the country by looking at financial filings by public companies, surveying direct operators, and examining franchise disclosure documents. It also made use of a proprietary valuation algorithm.

The data was collected during 2019, and obviously, 2020 has brought about significant changes for the restaurant industry. Generally, large fast-food chains have fared better than independent restaurants, thanks, in part, to existing tech and infrastructure like apps for online ordering and drive-thrus, which were permitted to remain open even as dining rooms were ordered closed.

Here are the top 20, according to last year’s sales in the US:


20. Little Caesars

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2019 sales: $US3.8 billion


19. Popeyes

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2019 sales: $US3.8 billion


18. Arby’s

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2019 sales: $US3.9 billion


17. Panda Express

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2019 sales: $US3.9 billion


16. Applebee’s

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2019 sales: $US4.1 billion


15. Olive Garden

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2019 sales: $US4.3 billion


14. KFC

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2019 sales: $US4.5 billion


13. Sonic

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2019 sales: $US4.7 billion


12. Chipotle

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2019 sales: $US5.5 billion


11. Pizza Hut

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2019 sales: $US5.6 billion


10. Panera Bread

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2019 sales: $US5.9 billion


9. Domino’s

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2019 sales: $US7 billion


8. Dunkin’

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2019 sales: $US9.2 billion


7. Wendy’s

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2019 sales: $US9.8 billion


6. Subway

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2019 sales: $US10.2 billion


5. Burger King

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2019 sales: $US10.2 billion


4. Taco Bell

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2019 sales: $US11.3 billion


3. Chick-fil-A

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2019 sales: $US11.3 billion


2. Starbucks

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2019 sales: $US21.4 billion


1. McDonald’s

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2019 sales: $US40.4 billion