McDonald's to expand in India, export local recipes

Monday, 31 May 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: US-based global fast food giant McDonald's will expand its operations in India "very aggressively" in response to a growing fast food culture in its cities and towns.

The world's largest food chain has also decided to explore new markets for exporting its spicy India-specific recipes, said Amit Jatia, managing director (western region) of McDonald's India.

"We will add at least 15 new restaurants in the current year to the 56 outlets that are operating in different parts of the country," Jatia, chief of one of the two McDonald's joint ventures in India, told IANS in an interview.

"While most new outlets will be opened in cities where McDonald's already has its presence, we will also target shopping complexes in new locations."

"McDonald's considers India one of the key markets globally. We will continue to expand our services in India very aggressively over the next few years as the fast food culture grows rapidly in cities and even smaller towns," said Jatia.

McDonald's India, one of the first foreign food chains in the country, will also set up restaurants along the new highways that are fast coming up all over the country.

The fast food major, which operates more than 30,000 restaurants worldwide, has expanded its operations in India rapidly since opening its first store in New Delhi in 1996.

A host of global fast good chains such as McDonald's, Subway and Pizza Hut have entered the Indian market and expanded rapidly in the last few years as more and more of India's middle class - estimated anywhere between 150 to 250 million - started to eat out.

The rise in disposable income in the hands of youngsters, thanks to a boom in IT and call centre jobs, and increased exposure to Western lifestyle has enhanced the appetite for fast foods in the world's second most populous nation.

Experts say the fact that most global fast food chains have altered their menu in India, with choices adapted to local tastes, has also resulted in increased sales.

McDonald's, for instance, sells as many as 11 products suited to Indian palates, including McCurry Pan, a rectangular-spiced bread stuffed with chicken or broccoli and mushroom, McAloo Tikki potato patties and Crispy Chinese burgers.

"In India, it has always been our endeavour to offer special product formulations to accommodate the Indian culture and palate. We will add more products in the current year that suit local tastes," said Jatia.

Some new recipes developed in McDonald's kitchens in India are now beginning to find their way to the fast food major's overseas outlets.

"We started exporting Pizza McPuff and McAloo Tikki burgers to McDonald's restaurants in the Middle East on an experimental basis. And these products have now become very popular there," Jatia said.

"This has enthused us to explore other export markets for India-specific products," he said, noting the local arm of McDonald's may start selling to Europe, the US and Hong Kong.

While declining to give revenue figures, Jatia said the local venture of McDonald's was likely to break even by the end of the current year.

Source: IANS
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