Fast-Food Chains’ ‘Wrap Battle’ Has Commenced


A wrap battle is booming in the QSR arena. By remixing preexisting ingredients with build-your-own appeal, major players are producing flavor-drenched “hunger hacks” and fresh affordable snacks that span dayparts.

Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, and Sonic are among the wave of restaurant chains innovating their wrap offers with a blend of classic and bold flavors, reported Restaurant Business.

Value is a key attribute driving this momentum, as the affordability of wraps extends to food service operators and consumers.

In most cases, adding this item to the menus requires the addition of only one SKU—a flour tortilla. Operators can then combine proteins (chicken is the most popular) with sauces, veggies, and other ingredients that are already a part of their inventory.

According to MenuData, Burger King introduced chicken wraps in varieties like Classic, Spicy, and Honey Mustard last August, while KFC ventured into unique combinations with its Spicy Slaw and Mac & Cheese Wraps.

Other notable additions include Carl’s Jr.’s BBQ Hand Breaded Chicken Tender Wrap, Dunkin’s Chicken & Roasted Pepper Wrap, and Saladworks’ Jalapeño Ranch Crispy Chicken Wrap.

This week, Subway rolled out a lineup of wraps served on a new bread option — its first in three years. The lavash-style flatbread has a “soft and bubbly” texture and is inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine, reported Today.

“These menu expansions reflect a shift towards offering a larger number of wrap[s], which include diverse and innovative options, catering to a wide range of customer tastes,” MenuData CEO Sunny Khamkar told The Food Institute.

Tapping Snack Appeal to Span Dayparts

The wrap battle is echoing across other foodservice venues as QSRs pull more lunch daypart share from grocery and convenience channels.

According to a February 2024 report by Circana, FMI, and Oliver Wynman, younger generations, especially Gen Z, are increasingly driving growth at foodservice establishments and shifting midday spend to QSRs.

Similar movement can be seen in the snack category, where customizable mix-and-match wrap deals that bridge dayparts are faring well in both fast food and QSRs environments.

As the report suggests, leveraging snackability could be a valuable target for ongoing innovation across multiple dayparts.

“Snack foods play different roles throughout the day and should be promoted to consumers based on their shifting needs,” noted the authors. “Between main eating occasions, consumers look for ways to tide themselves to the next one or to satisfy cravings.”

As the report also observes, QSRs excluding fast casuals held a 54% share of traffic across foodservice snack channels as of September 2023, marking a 5% increase year-over-year.

C-stores hold the next highest share (28%), followed by all other Retail Foodservice (8%), but YOY traffic at both channels was down 3%, and 2%, respectively.

“To win the wrap battle, it’ll be on QSRs to deliver on not just taste, but value and innovation as well.” Vijay Sukumar, chief food innovation Officer at KFC, told Restaurant Business.

Channeling MTO Appeal

As more QSRs drop fresh wraps and c-stores push back with their own creations, order customization could be a growth advantage.

According to a June 2023 consumer study from FoodserviceResults, 66% of respondents said convenience stores should offer made-to-order (MTO) food. Furthermore, 72% of those respondents were members of Gen Z, reported C Store Decisions.

In March 2024, East coast c-store chain Wawa launched a build-to-order wrap campaign to elevate the offer by placing customization in the hands of the consumer.

The Food Institute Podcast

From lattes to chicken sandwiches to desserts, it seems every restaurant is hopping on the limited-time offer (LTO) craze to drive traffic and check growth. But is this really having the desired effect? Datassential vice president of sales Megan Lynberg discusses the historical data on LTOs, popular LTO items, and other strategies companies are using to inspire growth.