Australia's taste for fast food puts innovation on menu

Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:52am EDT
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By Jane Wardell

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Fast food may be falling out of favor in many countries around the world but companies are making healthy profits and boldly innovating in the unlikely market of Australia.

Contrary to stereotypes of a beach-going community of fitness fanatics, official data out this week showed 40 percent of Australian adults are dangerously obese and have a poor diet that includes lashings of fast food.

That makes Australia a hotbed for innovation by companies including homegrown firm Domino's Pizza Enterprises Ltd, McDonald's Corp and Yum! Brands Inc's KFC and Pizza Hut as they struggle to win over health-conscious diners in other countries.

"We'll continue to push the boundaries of digital innovation this year, creating barriers to entry for our competitors," Domino's Chief Executive Don Meij said this week after reporting a 40 percent jump in annual profit globally.

Domino's, which operates in six countries, is adopting ideas from the new sharing economy to grow its slice of the A$14 billion ($10.33 billion) quick service restaurant trade in Australia.

In what it claims as a world-first, Domino's in May launched a driver-tracking system inspired by Uber Technologies' [UBER.UL] ride-sharing app that lets customers follow their pizzas' journeys using smartphones, tablets and TV screens. It aims to use that technology to charge customers extra for guaranteed 15-minute delivery, a premium service designed to steal customers from drive-through outlets.

Domino's plans to roll out its driver tracking service to the Netherlands by Christmas and to Japan, France and Belgium by the end of next year.

It also offers crowd-sourcing app Pizza Mogul. Launched a year ago, it allows customers to design their own pizzas, market them on social media and pocket a cut of the sales.   Continued...

A worker carries a pizza for delivery as he exits a Domino's pizza store in Sydney, Australia, August 12, 2015.  REUTERS/David Gray