Personal Finance

Average Cost of Fast Food in Singapore

Since its introduction in 1968, fast food has become increasingly central to many Singaporeans' diets. In fact, there are currently more than 450 outlets in the country, and 85% of consumers report eating out at least once a week. In order to help diners make informed decisions when they order, we've analysed the market and created a guide on the average cost of fast food in Singapore.

Average Cost of Fast Food in Singapore

The cost of fast food varies by outlet as well as by factors such as meal type (a la carte items or "combo" meals) and primary protein (beef, chicken, seafood and more). After reviewing 504 menu items at 15 fast food chains in Singapore and accounting for these factors, we have calculated the average cost of fast food to be S$7.51 for a la carte items and S$8.94 for combo meals. For reference, this reported average excludes individual drinks, sides and desserts.

Average Cost of Fast Food in Singapore by Meal Type & Protein

A La Carte ItemCombo Meal
Beef BurgersS$6.86S$9.62
ChickenS$6.20S$8.11
Fish / SeafoodS$5.54S$7.56
OtherS$8.27S$10.00
Total AverageS$7.51S$8.94
Data is drawn from 15 fast food outlets in Singapore and is based on an aggregate total of 504 menu items. Other category includes items such as pizza, deli sandwiches, soups, salads and more

For the most part, fast food outlets offer beef burgers, chicken dishes (tenders, nuggets and sandwiches), and fish items (pieces and sandwiches), with beef/burger dishes generally costing more than such alternatives. Other items–like pizza, deli sandwiches, soups, and salads–are less common, but surprisingly cost more on average than beef burgers. "Combo" meals, which typically include a side and drink, typically cost less than the aggregate of their a la carte item prices.

Breaking Down the Value Behind Combination Meals

It's rather unsurprising that a la carte items are less expensive than combo meals, as the latter include additional elements. However, the savings achieved by purchasing a combo meal, rather than each of the items individually, is quite substantial. In fact, while a combo meal averages S$8.94 in cost, the average cost of a main, side and drink a la carte comes to S$14.03. This S$5.09 difference per meal adds up, summing to over S$150 from 1 month of daily fast food lunches or dinners.

Difference in Savings Based on Average Costs

Avg Cost, A La CarteAvg Cost, Combo Meal
Main ItemS$7.51(Bundled)
Side ItemS$3.82
Reg Soft DrinkS$2.70
Avg Total CostS$14.03S$8.94
Average costs calculated based on 623 total menu items (245 a la carte items, 258 combo meals, 111 sides and 9 soft drinks) across 15 fast food outlets

Not all combo meals are created equal in terms of saving, however. In this case, differences vary mostly by outlets. Bundling with Burger King or Carl's Jr offers some of the best cost-saving opportunities, while Arnold's Fried Chicken and A&W are less competitive.

Average Savings of Combo Meals v. A La Carte Items at Select Outlets

Average CostArnold's Fried ChickenA&WBurger KingCarl's Jr
Main ItemS$4.50S$4.50S$7.14S$8.56
Side ItemS$3.42S$4.13S$2.90S$4.77
Reg Soft DrinkS$2.20S$2.90S$2.60S$3.10
A La Carte Total CostS$10.12S$11.53S$12.64S$16.43
Combo Meal CostS$9.00S$9.45S$8.63S$12.02
Total SavingsS$1.12S$2.08S$4.01S$4.41

Singaporean Diets & Import Costs Likely Drive Protein Pricing

It's apparent that beef burgers are, on average, the priciest of proteins, while meals comprised of chicken or fish are slightly less expensive. This may be because Singapore doesn't produce beef locally for the most part, and only 12 countries are fully approved to export beef products to Singapore (compared to 20 countries for chicken).

While high prices are often associated with high demand, Singaporeans actually consume less beef than chicken, pork, fish or even mutton. In fact, chicken is the most-consumed protein in Singapore. This may be why the nation's most popular fast food places feature more a la carte chicken items than beef or shrimp.

Percent of A La Carte Menu Items by Protein, Top 2 Fast Food Chains in Singapore

Outlet% Beef Burgers% ChickenMarket Share
McDonald's43%48%40%
KFC0%100%13%
Data based on protein types for all a la carte menu items, for each chain. Market share data drawn from Euromonitor International 2018 Singapore Market Research Report

Chicken may be less expensive as a result of competition–various outlets trying to keep costs low to attract the many consumers who prefer the protein. Additionally, fish may be rather inexpensive because Singapore produces 10.7 tonnes of its own locally every day.

It's also worth pointing out that dishes that do not fall within these categories–such as pizza, deli sandwiches, salads and soups–are on average the most expensive. This may be because pizza is in general quite pricey in Singapore, with individual pies (without customisation) starting as high as S$11+. Items that involve many fresh components or additional preparation also tend to be more expensive. Overall, fast food outlets aren't the best place to find a cheap salad, but many offer great deals on chicken or fish sandwiches.

Ways to Save on Your Next Order

Fast food is already cheap and convenient, but there are a few ways to save even more money when you order. In general, fried chicken fast food outlets have lower prices than burger outlets (average cost of S$6.71 v. S$8.31, respectively). The average cost of a burger–at fried chicken outlets who offer them–is actually lower than the average cost of a burger at burger outlets. If there's a Texas Fried Chicken or Jollibee nearby, you might want to check out their menu even if you're craving a cheeseburger.

Another thing to consider is whether or not your credit card offers a rewards program with fast food merchant partnerships. While many credit cards offer cash rebates or miles for general spend on dining, some offer elevated rewards rates for purchases with McDonald's, Subway, KFC and more. In this case, paying with your card is like activating an immediate discount. You may also have access to special deals; Maybank, Citibank, UOB and others frequently partner with outlets to offer discounts specifically for cardholders only.

Methodology

In order to determine the average cost of fast food in Singapore, we reviewed 504 menu items across 15 market-leading fast food outlets. These menu items included both a la carte items, like individual burgers or chicken sandwiches, as well as combo meals, which typically include a main, side, and soft drink. The reported a la carte and combo meal average do not include distinct sides, drinks, or desserts; these elements were analysed separately. As for selection of outlets, we focused on multinational chains with an effort to include a balance of burgers, fried chicken, seafood, regional/local flavors, and other key food areas.

Carrie Arndt

Carrie is a Senior Analyst at ValueChampion, specialising in credit cards in Singapore. She previously led consumer studies worldwide as a Senior Research Executive at MMR Research.

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