Illustrative image (Source: ft.com)
Hanoi (VNA) – Consumers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are tightening their belts during a sluggish economic time by cutting their spending on fast food.

ASEAN consumers love fried chicken, burgers and fries. Fast-food franchises are a common sight in popular shopping malls and many are open 24 hours a day.

However, Malaysian and Thai people are cutting back on their fast food intake as the consumers, especially Malaysians, have been pessimistic about the countries’ economic outlooks, according to data from FT Confidential Research, a research service at the UK’s Financial Times.

The findings are based on a survey tracking the consumption patterns of 3,000 respondents across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam over the past two years.

The survey also shows that KFC and McDonald’s — generally the top two brands in ASEAN markets — bore the brunt of the cutbacks.

In October, about 51 percent of Malaysian respondents said they visited McDonald’s in the past six month, down from 52.3 percent in April. The figure was 57.8 percent when the survey started two years ago.

Meanwhile, only 17 percent of Philippine respondents visited KFC regularly in October, versus 30 percent two years ago. In contrast, 54 percent and 42 percent of Filipino respondents frequently visited Jollibee and McDonald’s respectively in October, and the figures have largely been stable over the same period.

But demand for fast food in Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand is saturated and the top chains will have to look to new markets for growth, the survey said.

That market is Vietnam, which currently has the lowest proportion of people eating at fast-food chains among the five ASEAN economies.

McDonald’s sees Vietnam, with its rising, young middle class, as the next place to be.

It had five restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City in 2015, but within the next decade it hopes to have 100 more spots to sell its Big Macs and compete against KFC, Jollibee and Lotteria — a chain from the Republic of Korea — for a share of the market there.-VNA