McDonald's To Go Meat-Free
If ever there was an example of the great lengths the major American fast-food restaurants will go to (usually with great success you might add) in making themselves as relevant as possible in the emerging world, the example of McDonald's opening its first purely vegetarian restaurant in India probably provides it. The likes of McDonald's and YUM! Brands (which operates the KFC and Pizza Hut franchises) have had expert success in adapting their business to suit their markets. YUM! has had phenomenal success in China to the point where it now accounts for about 40% of its operating income from next to nowhere less than 15 years ago. However, neither is as strong as Dominos Pizza in India, which is operated by Delhi-based Jubilant Foodworks. Its menu is heavily adapted to Indian taste buds with a number of fiery chilli-infused pizzas on offer, and the use of Indian favourites such as paneer major factors behind its success in the hugely competitive Indian food services market.
McDonald's, which does not serve beef in India where its bestselling Big Mac is absent with its place taken by a chicken-based Maharaja Mac, is setting up vegetarian restaurants near religious sites where meat is not consumed.
India has not been easy for Western fast food companies. What has paved the way for the strong growth over more recent years has mainly been rising incomes. The explosion in the Indian middle class has created great opportunities for Western fast food, which is considered far more upscale than in the West. It is not that Indian taste buds are Westernizing: far from it. A lot of menu adaptation has taken place and there are also a number of Indian quick service chains competing and doing well in the market. A lot of the Western restaurants provide good environments for people to meet up and also offer convenience, which has become a lot more important as people work longer hours.
The success enjoyed by Dominos, which can now count on India as its third biggest market behind the US and Mexico, underlines the fact that it is possible for Western quick service restaurants to do really well in India. YUM! Brands is expected to spend a lot more in India going forward with the aim of having about 550 KFC restaurants by 2015 (compared to in excess of 4,000 in China at present).