Sat, Dec 25, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Taiwanese eat least fast food in Asia

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Although some people feel nauseous while watching Morgan Spurlock's movie Supersize Me, some remain loyal fast-food fans, with Hong Kongers topping the list in a global survey released on Thursday.

According to the Consumer Confidence and Opinion Survey conducted by the market research firm ACNielsen, the Asia-Pacific region has the most take-away addicts, with 14 percent patronizing fast-food outlets at least once a week, led by consumers in Hong Kong (61 percent), Malaysia (59 percent) and the Philippines (54 percent).

Nine of the top 10 global markets for weekly fast-food consumption hailed from the Asia-Pacific region, while the US ranked eighth with 35 percent.

The survey had some good news for local health authorities: Taiwan showed the lowest consumption frequency in the region, with only 19 percent visiting these outlets every week, while 43 percent said they ate fast food less than once a month.

The survey was conducted between Sept. 28 and Oct. 8 in 28 countries across Asia-Pacific, Europe and the US covering more than 14,100 adults aged between 18 and 60 over the Internet.

Despite the low frequency shown in Taiwan's market, 98 percent of the nation's respondents said they have indulged in fast food. But this does not mean fast-food restaurateurs can make easy money.

"The nation's wide variety of food choices makes it difficult to lure diners to always spend money in a specific restaurant chain," said Paul Huang (黃志鵬), associate director at ACNielsen Taiwan.

"There remains room for market maneuvering in the fast food market," he said.

Not surprisingly, multinational giants McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Pizza Hut and Burger King were picked by global respondents as the top choices for take-away food.

The Taiwanese preference for McDonald's ranked eighth among 28 markets, with 53 percent saying they often patronize the chain, followed by 17 percent choosing KFC, 9 percent for Mos Burger, 6 percent for Starbucks and 2 percent for Pizza Hut in Taiwan. Mos Burger is well-known for its rice burgers -- which sandwiches a patty of meat between two rice cakes.

Lennart Bengtsson, chief marketing officer of ACNielsen Asia-Pacific, attributed these fast-food chains' strong market presence to people's busy lifestyles and ease of access to these restaurants.

"For many city-dwellers, these days it's all about convenience," Bengtsson said.

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