In March 2011 it was announced that Subway had overtaken McDonald’s as the world’s largest fast food brand by volume. By the end of 2010 Subway had 33,749 outlets whilst McDonald’s had 32,737 although the latter’s revenue was far higher at $24 billion as opposed to $15.2 billion.

Yum! Brands, which owns multiple brands including KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, has over 38,000 locations.

Subway estimates that the number of its overseas locations will exceed those in the United States by 2020 and figures from Mintel Global Market Navigator confirm the wisdom of concentrating expansion in emerging markets.

The Brazilian, Russian, Indian and Chinese (the BRIC nations) fast food and takeaway markets have all exhibited double digit compound annual growth rates (CAGR) by value over the past 5 years at 18.9%, 14.2%, 27.5% and 17.6% respectively.

Forecast CAGR for these markets for the next 5 years decrease somewhat with Brazil predicted to grow by 10.0% by value, Russia by 11.2%, India by 20.3% and China by 12.8%.

Growth by volume is not as consistent with Brazil having an historic CAGR of 0.8% which is forecast to decline to 0.4% over the next 5 years.

The corresponding figures for Russia, India and China show strong historic CAGRs at 18.0%, 11.1% and 11.0% and, again, reduced forecast CAGRs of 14.4%, 7.7% and 10.6%.

If we look at a sample of industrialised nations we can see that both historic and forecast CAGR by value has been slower.

In France the CAGR for the past 5 years was 7.4% whilst the forecast for the next 5 years drops to 5.4%. The comparative figures for Germany are 7.0% and 5.2%, for Japan are 3.2% and 2.3% and for the United States are 3.7% and 2.3%.

In the UK, however, although forecast growth is low at 2.5% it is still predicted to exceed historic growth of 2.1%.