Chook Face-Off: Which Takeaway Chicken Chain Is Australia's Head Cock?

Roy Morgan Research has released a new report detailing fast food chicken trends in Australia. Interestingly, while KFC and Red Rooster have been gradually shedding customers, Oporto's and Nando's continue to go from strength to strength. It seems there's a new pecking order on the horizon -- and the big chains' feathers are already getting ruffled.

When it comes to fast food in Australia, KFC and Red Rooster have always been kings of the chicken coop. But new research suggests this may soon change, with rival chains Oporto's and Nando's gaining steadily in popularity over the past five years.

In 2008, 14 percent of respondents from a Roy Morgan poll of 4,899 reported having visited Nando’s at least once. By 2013, this had grown to 20 percent. Oporto’s popularity enjoyed an even bigger increase; leaping from 21 percent in 2008 to 28 percent in 2013.

In addition, Nando's enjoyed a significant boost in visitation frequency with customers buying food from the chain an average of 2.24 times per month, compared to 1.56 times per month in 2008.

Over the same time-period, KFC and Red Rooster both suffered losses: between 2008 and 2013, the number of Australians who had visited KFC and Red Rooster dropped from 68 percent to 63 percent, and 52 percent to 49 percent, respectively.

You can check out the results in the graph below (click to enlarge):

Image: Roy Morgan Research

"Increased visitation to Nando’s and Oporto appears to be affecting Australia’s main fast-food chicken chains: over the last five years, traditional favourites KFC and Red Rooster have experienced gradual declines in visitation," explained Geoffrey Smith, Roy Morgan Research's general manager of consumer products.

"In these changing times, businesses must learn to adapt to an evolving market, and KFC and Red Rooster may need to reconsider how they attract new customers and win back old ones. With public awareness about battery farming growing, perhaps the introduction of a free-range menu could be an option?"

Despite KFC's continued customer losses, it remains the leading fast-food chicken retailer in Australia and is especially popular with the under 25 demographic. It's also worth noting that Oporto's and Nando's are younger, smaller franchises that are engaging in a higher degree of restaurant expansion -- this obviously contributes to the customer gains they have enjoyed.

Which fast food chicken restaurant is your favourite? Do you stick to the big chains, or is their a local gem that puts them all to shame? And are there any franchises that you avoid like bird-flu? Let us know in the comments section below!


Comments

    A KFC employee, told me I'd be brave to eat that, while pointing to the chicken. She said the new batch would be about 20 minutes away. So I decided to wait. Other people were still be given that chicken by others and her. At the time I went to KFC every week, and when she served me gave me employee discount, so decided to take her word for it. I was cautious from then on when someone else served me.

      So long as it's kept under the heat lamps the worst that'll happen is it's a bit dry. While KFC doesn't always stick to their hold times, they're pretty careful about holding temperatures due to Salmonella.

    There is a very good reason that Nandos have blossomed since they spread from South Africa to Australia and later to many other countries around the world, even America. The chicken is freshly cooked, tasty, well proportioned and there is an excellent healthy dining option in the rice and salad sides.

    The one time I tried Oporto I got my dreaded bland shreddeed dreaded iceberg lettuce and a soggy bun with 'meh' chicken. I was only able to eat half before tossing the rest (Avoid Prahran Oporto like the bird 'flu)

    Red rooster to me has always been a place where you ask for breast portions and are strictly told 'No' by surly staff pointing to a handwritten sign backing up the stance - then given legs on purpose that have been in the bain marie for at least 3 weeks.

    As for KFC? I would rather eat a dead battered rat, if they don't already serve that.

    As a footnote: The KFC Logo really does look like Rolf Harris.

      Blanket statements are blanket statements.
      We used to get Nandos from the Port Melbourne store once every week. it was exactly as you described, and indeed they became more and more popular. Then it all went downhill and after getting food poisoning and constantly undercooked chicken (which is all the more surprising as they decreased time and time again the amount of chicken in our meals, how do you even undercook a pancake width piece of chicken?), not to mention less salad than our local Maccas puts in a burger, we've completely sworn off the place. No idea if they've picked up again in the last year or so.

      Broad statistics are always interesting to look at, but as with things like BMI, it's never as simple as applying stats over your own personal experiences. Since moving our closest KFC is equally as horrible as that Nandos, these days we tend to just grab a chicken from the supermarket and use the sauces you can buy seperately from Nandos if we're craving a Peri Peri fix :P

        A pancake thin slice of chicken? Quite an exaggeration.

        I've been going to Nandos for the last 6 years. I have never had one bad experience. For 3 years it was "Nando's Thursday" and we would indulge in one or two People Pleasers (no longer on the menu I believe) to feed 8 or so of us at work. Not once did anyone get sick. That was the North Rocks store.

        Since then I religiously visited the Parramatta store and many others across NSW/QLD. I have never been let down.

        This was the longest gap between visits... I hadn't been since early this year, til Wednesday this week. And everything was business as usual. It was perfect.

        Perhaps you should have complained immediately instead of getting done over repeatedly. Or changed store?

        I have not one bad word to say about Nando's or Oporto's and I know no one else that does. As for the other two.... Rooster rolls being burning hot on the outside and luke warm in the middle. Disgusting. KFC's secret ingredient is "I'm feeling fat and disgusting and full of regret". And most of the time the KFC skin is way over cooked. To the point where I feel like I'm eating burnt biscuits.

        At least Nando's is using a grill. Their chicken (which is what I order 99% of the time) is pre cooked in some awesome oven that keeps it moist. It has NEVER been dry. I don't think Red Rooster have anything to heat food with apart from microwaves.

        Last edited 30/08/13 4:05 pm

          "A pancake thin slice of chicken? Quite an exaggeration."

          I think that's pretty accurate, I have my pancakes reasonably thick and the chicken at Nando's is anything bit thick compared to a chicken breast.

          Having said that, I haven't had a problem at Nando's (Only really have it once a year or so) but there's truth in what he said. Sometimes even your most loved brand can have a shitty store, it all comes down to how management is and the staff.

      Ever since I was a kid I've always asked for breast portions when I go to Red Rooster and have never once been been told no.
      Also, KFC is ridiculously delicious.

      Last edited 30/08/13 1:30 pm

      You seriously think the chicken is cooked fresh....
      It is pre cooked in an oven and kept in a warming draw until they finish it on the grill.
      Read their website.

        And that makes it more tender and appealing than any other chicken I've had outside of cooking at home.

        I hate it when the chicken looks nice and juicy in a takeaway shop, or El Jannah's, etc and it's mostly dry and doing it's best to spend as long as possible in my throat. Nando's chicken is fat and easy to tear.

      I remember the last time I went to Red Rooster (a few years ago now, the store in question has since closed), I went in there, went up to the counter and ordered and the girl behind the counter told me that they had run out of chicken. Seriously - a chicken place actually ran out of chicken. That's like McDonalds telling you they've run out of hamburgers - it should never happen.

      The funny part was that she followed that bit of news up by saying "But we've still got everything else!" Sorry, but your coleslaw isn't so great that I'd want it to be the centrepiece of my dinner.

        I've had that a few times, not only at Red Rooster, but also at KFC and Chicken Treat (I'm in WA). Also, the first time I went to Oporto's they were out of chicken too (although this was when they recently opened so were really busy, still you'd think they'd plan for that).

        I work in a chicken place. Not any of the ones mentioned. We sometimes run out of chicken and have it completely blow some bogans mind.

        We plan our cooks around expected sales. If some whales come in and buy 30 pieces of chicken randomly then chances are there will be a wait. You can take it or leave it. Please realise that swearing at staff members and making a scene only makes you look silly. The margins just aren't great enough for us to cook massive amounts of excess food just in case.

        PS. Customers are also really funny when they decide to get a BBQ chicken from coles instead of waiting 5 minutes for a fresh one out of the roto. Enjoy your chicken that's been in a bag all day after you spend 10 minutes driving around the block and re parking...

          I didn't swear at her or make a scene, I just said no thanks and took my money elsewhere. It wasn't a question of a wait - she just said they were out of chicken and that was it, not that they were out of chicken but a new batch would be ready in a few minutes. But the customer service in that Red Rooster store on the few occasions I went there was always pretty ordinary, so I doubt they were that interested in my business anyway. Probably why they've since shut down.

            Yeah wasn't really directing anything at you just went off on a tangent there. I do have to wonder why Red Rooster even exists. I don't know anyone personally who has been into one in the last 5 years.

    Clem's on King St at Newtown! A new chicken joint has just opened across the road from them and I really feel bad for the owners. They seem to have saved up to start up this small business for years and they're going to lose everything because they're opposite Clem's.

      Clem's, that brings back memories... I used to work in Newtown and walked past Clem's on my way home, the number of times I picked up chicken there even though I had dinner waiting for me at home probably explains a lot about my current waistline. Seriously nice chicken, barbecued just right with a tasty stuffing...

      If Clem's had a chain that matched their quality KFC would be toast.

      I remember when I was a kid Red Rooster was actually pretty nice, but they've been cutting corners more and more as the years rolled on.

    I'll nominate Chicken Man near Kingswood Train Station; a favourite haunt of UWS students. They do something weird to their chips which gives them a lemony flavour -- tastes divine!

      i dont think there is a UWS Nepean student who hasnt eaten there!

      Chicken Man is amazing. I remember it from my 3 years spent at UWS Nepean over a decade ago. Remember it fondly.

    Never liked Red Rooster.

    KFC has nice chips. I am always disappointed with it.

    I miss Australian KFC terribly. Here in Japan the chips are tiny and crap and the crispy strips are fried oily crap. :(

    I also miss Nandos, though I don't miss the fact that every single Nandos I ever went to had hopeless staff. Always took the wrong order or forgot something or were super slow or...

    How come Chicken Treat got excluded? Also, never heard of Oporto o.O

      Chicken Treat mainly only exists in WA, with a few stores in QLD and Tas.

        Oh. That would explain it :P

          I lived in Kununurra for a while and was told "DON'T GO TO CHICKEN TREAT", unfortunately one particularly hungover Sunday morning with no food in the house and nothing else open I decided to give it a try, WORST. DECISION. EVER. Everything literally tasted like butter, the chicken, BUTTER, the chips, BUTTER, the Gravy, BUTTER, the potato, BUTTER. Admittedly after the ludicrously buttery taste of the chicken and chips I wouldn't have been surprised if everything else I ate for the next couple of days tasted like butter, so maybe the Potato and Gravy wasn't actually that bad. So yeah... BUTTER!!!

            I'd lay the blame with Kununurra's chicken treat, not the entire chain. In Perth, a chicklen & chips box from Chicken Treat vs Red Rooster is pretty much identical

            Chicken Treat and Red rooster is actually a fairly interesting story.. Red rooster being the national chain, which ended up being bought by the people who owned Chicken Treat ironically.. Then the new management seemed to recognise the value in a unified branding, and started placing Red Roosters in exactly the same locations as Chicken Treat stores - presumably to phase out the lesser/local brand....

            ... Then a lending company (Westpac) bought them up and decided 'hey, we might as well pick up Chooks while we're here'... And converted Chooks into chicken treats...

            Sometimes you have to seriously wonder what kind of idiots they have running these ventures, playing with billions of dollars and just flip flopping strategies entirely every time there's a slight management change..

      I'm going to guess you're from WA too? I'm in Perth and I'm pretty sure there's only 2 Oporto stores here. And looking at the Chicken Treat website, there's only 4 stores outside of WA.

      Anyone care to fill us in on what we're missing out with Oporto? in my mind I'm assuming very similar to Nandos?

        Oporto is basically a cut-priced Nando's that specialises in chicken burgers. It's signature sauce is chili and it's actually pretty spicy for a mainstream fast food restaurant.

      Apparently I need to learn to type quicker.

    I have no idea how Dirty Bird (KFC) stays in business with its luke warm chicken and cold saltless chips?

      The one you go to hates you by the sounds haha.

      One near me serves up awful chicken, never any good. The other one, serves up great chicken and chips.

      God this is wayyy too common for me too re; saltless chips.. I'd say probably half the time they are unsalted.. A total pain in the ass, especially if you've gone through the drive through..

      I mean.. It's only two ingredients..

    As far as fast food chicken in Australia goes nothing will ever beat KFC for me. Most of the time my training and eating regiment is super strict so when I do splurge I don't want to half ass it with kinda healthy, kinda not Nando's, I want that KFC goodness.

    KFC= Nandos (bit too expensive) > Red Rooster (where can i find one??) >>>>>> Oporto's (pretty disgusting the few times ive tried it.

    I had Nando's once. Their idea of a chicken burger is a small piece of chicken breast, slathered is sour sauce which they call "extra hot" on a coles hamburger roll, which is stale. The chips were also stale and over salted. Not worth 18 dollars...

    Despite the big chains best efforts to standardise everything they serve i'm pretty sure you need to find one that does it well consistently near you and stick with them cause they aren't all equal. When I lived in Darwin I'd drive the extra 20mins from the Bagot Rd KFC to the one at Casuarina one cause the Bagot Rd one was almost always awful, from flat drinks to undercooked chips or way too oily chicken it was just consistently bad, but the Casuarina one was great, never had a problem!

    Honestly half the reason I dislike going to KFC (even though I for the most part enjoy their food) is the absolutely ridiculous waiting times and slack staff at the stores I've been too. I can't speak for every store obviously but the all the stores I've visited in Brisbane in the last few years have the worst trained staff and managers. Take a leaf out of Maccas, KFC! For the most part they seem quite efficient at serving their customers in under 10 minutes.

      While it does vary from store to store - I once waited 20 minutes at one particular Macca's for something that I saw go to both people in the drive through and others who had ordered after me - I do tend to agree with you here. That's why, if I get KFC, I go through the drive through and then walk back into the building after I've parked. Much, much faster.

    Not sure if anyone has raised this above (not much time) but:

    In 2008, 14 percent of respondents from a Roy Morgan poll of 4,899 reported having visited Nando’s at least once. By 2013, this had grown to 20 percent. Oporto’s popularity enjoyed an even bigger increase; leaping from 21 percent in 2008 to 28 percent in 2013.

    Nando's came to Australia in 1990, Hungry Jacks (for example) came here in 1971.. Therefore, unless only the same people EVER go to nando's forever.. These are obviously going to statistically speaking see a much greater leap, in a much shorter period of time..

    The title of this also seems to indicate it's only about chicken places, and you only list chicken places - and yet in the article refer to it repeatedly as just "fast food". I would be genuinely surprised if Red Rooster was to date, more popular than say, McDonalds given their stores are consistently ghost towns.. Very over designed ghost towns.

      Yep, as I note in the article: "Oporto’s and Nando’s are younger, smaller franchises that are engaging in a higher degree of restaurant expansion — this obviously contributes to the customer gains they have enjoyed."

    No mention of Ogalo? I prefer them over those other four.

      Too small I would imagine.

      Only reason KFC a.k.a. Dirty Bird is top is because of their presence. Stores are a hit and miss sometimes. Ogalo has been consistent good for me (across Sydney). Nando's I do not rate highly and the food isn't worth the price IMO. Red Rooster isn't too bad, if you can find one hahaha (bit of a hit and miss as well, especially with dry meat). Oporto isn't too shabby, would prefer them over KFC if I find a store that consistently makes good burgers.

    A fact for ya'll. Red Rooster, Chicken Treat and Oporto are all the same company.

      More correctly, they're all franchise chains owned by the same parent company (Quick Service Restaurant Holdings). KFC and Pizza Hut are in a similar position (parent company Yum Brands).

    For anyone that's lived or been to canberra, Kingsleys is quite big. good breast and their chips go hard (good)

    Just thought I'd chime in with a suggestion of Rosie's Chicken (go to the Glenwood one every time I head north (Brisbane)). Also, my local KFC in Springwood, Brisbane is good largely depending on the time I visit. If you visit during peak hours (annoying I know) the food is hotter and fresher. I also ask for extra seasoning on the chips EVERY TIME I visit and emphasise it!. It should show up on your receipt as Extra Salt $0.00. That's my 5 cents.

    Isn't Red Rooster, Oporto's and Chicken Treat (WA) owned by the same company? If you combine the sales of all 3 they would overtake KFC.

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