Fast food – food sold in an outlet, drive-through, or restaurant either as preheated or precooked, and served or packaged as take-away – is ubiquitous in developed countries.
For instance, in the US, 45% of adults between the ages of 20 and 39 years and 37.7% of those between the ages of 40 and 59 consume fast food daily. Over 40% of higher-income earners eat fast food on a given day, 36.4% of middle-income, and 31.7% of lower-income earners.
Over the past two decades fast food brands have expanded to many developing countries. Across Africa fast food restaurants have spread at a rapid rate, driven by rising income levels, rapid urbanisation and changing eating habits and lifestyles.
In Ghana the restaurant sector represents the largest and fastest growing part of the domestic economy, increasing at an annual rate of 20%. Alongside foreign brands, there has also been expansion of informal fast food outlets that sell fried and jollof rice with fried chicken on the streets of many urban areas in Ghana.
In our research we set out to analyse the social and demographic characteristics of fast food consumers in Ghana. We also examined the cultural and health implications of emerging fast food culture. Our study was based substantially on a review of existing research on fast food in Ghana.
Our aim was to help create awareness about the implications of emerging fast food culture in Ghana.
Who are the consumers of fast food in Ghana?
We reviewed literature on the demographics of consumers of fast food in Ghana. The literature we reviewed showed that young adults – 15 to 45 years – were the biggest consumers of fast food in Ghana.
Our review also found that more men consumed fast food than women because men do not often cook or lack basic cooking skills. Although more men than women eat in fast food restaurants, women are increasingly patronising fast food restaurants as traditional gender perceptions are changing.
It is important to note that eating out is not new in Ghana. But the proliferation of fast food restaurants in recent years has reinforced the habit.
Finally, the literature we reviewed showed that it was mostly unmarried or single men and women that frequently visit fast food restaurants.
We found that consuming fast food is also a display of social status. Internationally branded fast foods are expensive in Ghana which means that they are consumed by middle and high-income classes. For some Ghanaians, consuming fast food means identifying with Western culture. It also means identifying with modern ways of life.
We found that fast food brands played on long-held beliefs in which Ghanaians largely associate fast food with Western culture to capture the affluent class who want to display their wealth by consuming fast food.
We also reviewed literature on the health implications of fast food in Ghana. The literature around the health implications is unequivocal. The consumption of energy-dense and fatty fast food, alongside sedentary lifestyles, poses severe health risks to consumers. Studies show that obesity, diabetes and hypertension as well as other diet-related diseases are on the rise in urban Ghana.
In a 2012 report Ghana’s Ministry of Health stated that about 48% of Ghanaian adults had hypertension and that it is prevalent among higher income groups. It is therefore not surprising that hypertension is the number-one killer disease in Ghana.
We concluded that the proliferation of fast food restaurants in Ghana is set to continue, and that the increasing consumption of fast food by local elites will undermine the local food culture. This, in turn, will pose severe health challenges to the public.
We also anticipate that poor people will increasingly turn to fast foods as prices go down because of competition. This means that the health risks will increasingly affect poor people too.
We argue that it’s imperative that public health policies should be directed towards giving health and nutrition information about fast food to the public. There is also an urgent need to increase public pressure to demand fast food restaurants in Ghana offer healthier options.
The health effects of COVID-19 have heightened the urgency to adopt healthier food and lifestyle practices to prevent noncommunicable diseases. This is because people with certain underlying medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure are at increased risk of severe illness and even death from COVID-19.
Reflecting the worrying trend, the president of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in the state of the nation address delivered on February 20, 2020 reiterated that obesity has become a serious public health concern due to the food Ghanaians eat as well as lack of physical exercise.
This article was co-authored with Rebecca Sarku and Jacob Obodai, PhD researchers, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands and The Open University, UK, respectively.
The year 2020 was one of the most challenging years for the aviation industry. The passenger traffic during the year fell by 67% year-over-year (YoY).
According to the research data analyzed and published by Comprar Acciones, between January 1 and December 20, 2020, airlines operated a total of 16.8 million flights. During a similar period in 2019, there were 33.2 million flights recorded, 97% higher than the 2020 figure.
The industry recorded 2.9 trillion passenger kilometers globally, compared to 8.7 trillion in 2019. As a result of travel restrictions, airline passenger traffic for the year dropped to levels last seen in 1999, erasing 21 years of growth for the industry. While domestic flights dropped by 40% compared to 2019, international flights sank by 68%.
Based on Cirium’s report, North America and the Asia Pacific got back on the path to recovery faster than all other regions. On the list of the top 10 busiest airports worldwide, USA had seven entries while China had three.
The busiest airport was in Atlanta and had 250,800 flights during the year. Chicago was second with 228,000 flights and Dallas was third with 227,200 flights. In China, the busiest airport was Guangzhou with 158,700 flights. It ranked sixth on the list.
Aviation Industry Net Loss Dropped From $118.5 Billion in 2020 to $38.7 Billion in 2021
According to IATA, 2020 was the aviation industry’s worst financial year on record. Total industry revenue for the year was $328 billion, down from $838 billion in 2019.
Passenger numbers fell to 1.8 billion during the year, a level that was last seen in 2003. Compared to 2019’s 4.5 billion, the numbers were 61% lower YoY.
While demand sank by 66%, load factor plummeted to 65.5%, the lowest level on record since 1993. Low demand, in turn, translated to a massive passenger revenue drop from $612 billion in 2019 to $191 billion.
In order to stay afloat, air carriers cut costs by 45.8%, from $795 billion in 2019 to $430 billion in 2020. Unfortunately, airline revenue was down 60.9%. Consequently, airlines were estimated to lose about $66 for every passenger carried in 2020, resulting in a net loss of $118.5 billion.
IATA projects that cash burn would continue up to the end of 2021, estimating a loss of $38.7 billion for the year. Overall revenue is projected to rise to $459 billion in 2021, $131 billion higher than the 2020 figure. But that would still be 45% lower than the 2019 total.
Passenger numbers are forecast to increase to 2.8 billion, a significant improvement, but still 1.7 billion less than in 2019. The passenger load factor will increase to 72.7%, well below the 82.5% pre-pandemic level. At the earliest, IATA projects that passenger levels will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2024.
Cargo operations were not as badly hit as the passenger business. In spite of a 45% decline in capacity, cargo revenue shot up from $102.4 billion in 2019 to $117.7 billion in 2020. Though the increase did not make up for the passenger revenue drop, it helped airlines sustain their struggling international business. It is estimated that the air cargo business will recover to pre-pandemic levels during 2021.
Asia Pacific Airlines to Post $7.5 Billion Loss in 2021
While the worldwide air travel market is still a long way from full recovery, regional discrepancies are significant.
Air carriers in Asia Pacific are expected to lead the global recovery process. The Asia Pacific flight volume shrunk by close to 45% YoY in 2020. It remained the largest market globally and even gained slightly in other regions.
At the end of Q3 2020, domestic air travel in China and Russia had fully recovered. Per IATA data, China was only down by 2.8% YoY in passenger kilometers flown on domestic markets, while Russia was 2.7% higher YoY. Comparatively, the US was 65% lower compared to 2019.
At the end of 2020, the East Asian and Pacific region had a remarkable recovery, rising to 73% of pre-pandemic flights. North America at the time was conducting 55% of pre-crisis flights and Europe by 39%.
Overall, airlines in Asia Pacific lost approximately $31.7 billion in 2020, while in North America, losses topped $45.8 billion. IATA projects a loss of $7.5 billion for Asia Pacific carriers in 2021, the smallest loss for the top three regions in the global aviation industry.
On the other hand, North American carriers are expected to lose about $11 billion and European carriers $11.9 billion. However, North America is expected to have a strong recovery based on the size of its domestic market and its carriers’ financial strength prior to the pandemic.