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KFC Has Been Dethroned as No. 2 Chicken Chain in the U.S. — Here's Who Took Its Spot A viral chicken sandwich led to an increase in market share.

By Madeline Garfinkle

Key Takeaways

  • Popeyes has claimed the position of the second-largest chicken chain in the U.S.
  • Chick-fil-A came in at No. 1.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Popeyes is now the nation's No. 2 chicken chain, CNBC reported.

After a decade in the No. 2 spot, KFC has been dethroned by Popeyes and now holds the bronze medal. Chick-fil-A is still No. 1.

Popeyes, a chain owned by parent company Restaurant Brands International, went viral after launching its chicken sandwich in 2019, which set off the "chicken sandwich wars," with customers lining up for hours at locations across the country. The trend prompted other fast-food chains such as Burger King, Wendy's, and Sonic to add chicken sandwiches to their menus, causing occasional shortages of poultry.

KFC, which is owned by Yum Brands, has experienced a market share decline over the past year, dropping from 16.1% to 11.3%, according to Barclays research, per CNBC. However, despite its new No. 2 title, Popeyes also saw a decrease in its market share during the same period, dropping from 15% to 11.9%. Chick-fil-A, meanwhile, expanded its market share from 38.3% to 45.5%.

But it doesn't look like Popeyes wants to say No. 2.

"Game on, Chick-fil-A," Restaurant Brands International chair Patrick Doyle said at a conference in mid-September, when prompted about its new spot as No. 2 behind Chick-fil-A.

Related: People in the U.K. Are Lining Up at Dawn for a Fast Food Chain's Chicken

Last month, Popeyes said it was redesigning its kitchens with intuitive workstations and automatic batter makers, as well as improving operational efficiency after the initial frenzy around the chicken sandwich led to complaints about slow and inaccurate orders, Bloomberg reported.

When Sami Siddiqui, Popeye's president for the U.S. and Canada asked franchisees about "what would be possible" when consistently serving hot and perfect food. Their response was straightforward: "Well, then we'd be Chick-fil-A," per Bloomberg.

Related: Top 12 Chicken Franchises to Buy in 2023

Madeline Garfinkle

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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