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How much have fast food prices gone up in the last 10 years? Price increases since 2014

Fast food has long been thought to be a convenient and affordable alternative to preparing meals. However, this option is not as cheap as it used to be.

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Eating fast food has become a fundamental part of the lives of many Americans due to its convenience and affordability. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study in 2018 showing that more than a third of adults consumed fast food on any given day.

Though ordering a quick bite is not as healthy as preparing one’s own meal, the low price tag, availability, and time saved have made fast food an attractive option.

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Fast food no longer as affordable

However, inflation has raised prices of fast food to levels that have become painful for consumers. Fast food giant McDonald’s missed its earnings estimates for the first quarter of 2024, as higher prices turned off inflation-weary customers who are more discerning about where to spend their hard-earned dollars.

The country has been experiencing inflation that is still not down to the level desired by the Federal Reserve, but prices have been particularly steep in the fast food sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual inflation rate for this industry stands at 4.8%.

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How much have fast food prices gone up in the last 10 years? Price increases since 2014

BLS findings indicate that prices in “limited-service restaurants” went up by 47% since 2014. A closer look at the prices of individual items in various restaurants reveals that the percentage change of specific items go as high as 100%.

According to a study by USA Today, Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s more than doubled their prices from 2014 to 2024. Wendy’s follows closely, registering a nearly double price increase the past decade.

Prices vary throughout the country, and some of the differences are vast. A Big Mac combo costs $7.89 in Houston, Texas and almost $15 in Seattle, Washington, per USA Today.