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Top 500 Chains Increase Sales in 2010

The 500 largest U.S. restaurant chains posted a 1.8 percent annual sales increase in 2010, according to data released by Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based foodservice market research firm.

Technomic found that U.S. systemwide sales for the Top 500 restaurant chains increased to an estimated $234 billion in 2010, up more than $4 billion over 2009.

Growth came from the limited-service pizza, donut and coffee and other beverage categories with growth coming from Starbucks (8.7 percent), Dunkin' Donuts (6.1 percent) and Pizza Hut (7.8 percent), according to Technomic. McDonald's, the largest U.S. restaurant chain, grew 4.4 percent with sales of $32.4 billion. Subway continued to dominate the growing other sandwich segment with 6 percent sales growth and total sales of $10.6 billion, which is considerably better than the 1.8 percent growth posted by the other sandwich chains collectively.

As a whole, limited service grew at a rate of 2.5 percent. Asian, which grew at 9.3 percent, was another limited-service sub-segment with sales growth well above their segment average. Within this group, Panda Express, a California-based chain, grew 12.8 percent with sales of $1.4 billion.

Some fast-casual chains continue to perform well. For example, Chipotle Mexican Grill saw its U.S. systemwide sales grow 20.7, according to Technomic. In the hamburger segment, Five Guys Burgers and Fries had estimated sales growth of 37.8 percent.