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Localizing menus makes billions for global fast food chains

Fast food restaurants localize their menu to deliver dishes familiar to the citizens’ taste buds while serving their signature food.

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Localizing menus makes billions for global fast food chains

As 41 out of 53 McDonald’s outlets close in India’s capital, one wonders which menu items Delhi residents would miss most. According to a CNN Money report, McDonald’s local franchise owner closed the outlets temporarily, while the required licenses are being renewed. Another news site said 1,700 employees would lose their jobs, but a spokesman for McDonald’s Asia denied it.

Would the people of Delhi miss the grilled chicken or veggie burgers that are slathered with masala? “Masala” refers to a blend of spices that are added to food either in powder or paste form. Masala recipes vary although usually, the blend would include coriander, cumin, cardamom, peppercorns, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. These spices may be toasted and then ground to bring out more aroma and flavor.

As reported by Food Network and CNN, McDonald’s localizes certain menu items in the countries where it has franchises. For example, in Indonesia and the Philippines, it pairs spaghetti Bolognese with fried chicken. In Malaysia, it serves porridge with chicken strips, chilies, and other spices. In Italy, there’s tomato and mozzarella calzone.

Vegetarian pizza fast food chains

Among the biggest fast food chains, Domino’s Pizza can serve either vegetarian or non-vegetarian pizza in India. (Source)

Breakfast at a McDonald’s in Brazil would have bread stuffed with cheese. In Thailand, pineapple is stuffed in dough and fried up like American apple pie. McDonald’s is not the only multi-national fast food chain that does this sort of thing. 

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In South Korea, Dunkin’ Donuts used to serve a latte made out of a roasted blend of 12 grains, including barley and brown rice. According to the fast food chain’s Korean website, they now offer honey glutinous rice sticks among their baked goods. Another item, according to Google Translate, is “grilled wholemeal donuts with barbarian” but that could be a mistranslation of the Bavarian filling.

Domino’s in India offers either vegetarian or non-vegetarian pizzas. This is because there is a variety in Indians’ dietary restriction. Strict Hindu practitioners would not eat meat at all. Indians who do eat meat would have chicken, fish, lamb, or goat, or even pork. That’s why Domino’s Pizza there uses only pork pepperoni. Cows are sacred in India and so beef is never eaten.

When fast food chains went global, catering to local preferences was an inevitable choice. It not only attracts diners but also inspires loyalty. This is obviously working as a Business Wire report said that by 2019, the global fast food industry would be worth more than $600 billion.

Desmond O’Flynn is Irish but he’s not into boxing. He writes about finance and investing, as well as world politics and global economy. He used to believe that he didn’t have the luck of the Irish since he failed his art class thrice, but this immediately changed after meeting his wife Katarina, a startup interior design consultant based in Dublin. He is also a financial adviser.

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