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    Fast Food Industry - Market Characteristics and Changes

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    1. What are the chief economic and business characteristics of the fast casual segment of the fast food industry?

    2. What forces are driving changes in the fast casual segment of the fast food industry?

    3. What factors are critical to competitive success in the fast casual segment of the fast food industry?

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    Consider the following ideas:

    Fast Food - Introduction

    The United States Fast Food Industry has entered a period of slow growth in recent years as consumer attitudes regarding health and nutrition have changed. Panera Bread Company has been a pioneer in a new developing sector of the market that has been responsive to changes in consumer tastes. The look at the remote environment, the industry environment, and the operating environment in an attempt to formulate a strategy can assist the company in achieving long-term growth.

    Hamburgers are a reasonably recent creation; they became main stream in the early twentieth century. In 1916 the first hamburger chain was created by J. Walter Anderson. At his Witchita, Kansas store he sold hamburgers for five cents which also came with fries and colas. White castle was a thriving business, but it and other fast food chains did not become really popular until after World War II.

    Fast Food Industry

    Many feel that the fast food industry is providing a valuable service by catering to consumer needs; that it is inexpensive and easily accessible. For people who don't have time to prepare meals, for households in which both parents work, there's no question it provides a service. But all of this for what cost? The cost is the lives of those people who work in the meat processing plants. Meat packing is now the most dangerous job in the United States.

    The men and women that work in the slaughterhouses now are often low paid, poor immigrants, who have not completely learned English and are practically illiterate. These workers make a knife cut every two or three seconds, which adds up to about 10,000 cuts per eight hour day. One of the leading causes of the high injury rate in the slaughter houses is the speed at which the meat is disassembled. Hearing this, it is no surprise that lacerations are the most common injuries suffered by the men and women working in the meatpacking industry.

    Workers are under tremendous pressure to work fast and not report any injuries that may occur. The annual bonuses of plant foremen and supervisors are often based in part on the injury rate of their workers. Instead of creating a safer workplace, the supervisors pressure workers not to report any injuries and as a bonus, they would be moved to an easier job to give them some time to heal. Often, in this industry, supervisor pressure is not the only reason that injuries go unreported; the immigrant workers usually do not know enough English to complete the paperwork that goes along with filing injury reports.

    This manner that runs the lives of slaughterhouse workers is completely unethical. In any business, stopping an employee from receiving due compensation for injuries is unfair and unethical. It seems like that in any other business, if a worker is injured, and does not receive fair compensation, they have the ability and drive to enforce the law; but in the case of the slaughterhouse workers, that are often illiterate, this rarely happens.

    The fast food industry both feeds and prays off the young. Pioneers in developing marketing strategies to target children, the fast-food chains have even infiltrated the nation's schools through lunchroom franchises and special advertising packages that answer public education's need for funds; in every way possible, giving the children a loyal friend to rely on. In many franchises, teenagers are perfect candidates for low-paying, low-skilled, short-term jobs and constitute a large part of the fast-food chains' workforce; and often practically run individual locations, having more responsibility than most adults.

    The intense advertising and responsibilities is not the only thing we saw in Fast Food Nation that effected children. The quality of the meat that is fed to children in school and at the fast food restaurants is in some cases horrendous. Children are not the only age group that eats this tainted food, but they are more greatly harmed by it. E. coli is now the leading pathogen causing kidney failure among children in the US. The E. coli problem begins in the feedlots. The situation we see for these cattle is disgusting. Cattle are forced to eat out of manure filled pits that are likely to carry E. coli (which can be live for 90 days). To add to that, cattle are often fed remains of other animals such as sheep and even other cattle. If feedlots were more humane and sanitary, the infected herds would not infect others, and the meat that is fed to children would less likely give them E. coli.

    There are ethical concerns in about every business, but none seem to be as intense as the ones found in the meat packing and fast food industry. These issues concern the actual well being of the employee not just finances or material things. I don't know if it will ever be possible for the fast food and meatpacking industries to be safe environments to work in, but I do hope that someday the lives and needs of the workers are considered. There are not many things as important as a human life, hopefully someday; all the components of these industries that endanger these lives are changed, from E. coli to fatal packing plant ...

    Solution Summary

    The chief economic and business characteristics of the fast casual segment of the fast food industry; the forces that are driving changes in the fast casual segment of the fast food industry; competitive success in the fast casual segment of the fast food industry - 8 Pages
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