In an industry where domestic growth has been elusive, U.S.-based restaurant chains are attempting to evolve into truly global brands, reaching emerging markets where less industry saturation and competition exists. As chains seek to establish footholds in these untapped markets, they are challenged to strike a balance between maintaining their brand identities while tailoring menu items and service formats to local preferences.

“These brands can take advantage of the worldwide recognition they’ve established, but in order to gain loyal customers in new markets, they need to innovate on the menu and introduce items specifically adapted for local consumer preferences,” says Technomic EVP Darren Tristano. “Chains are also leveraging their international experience and applying lessons learned to improve domestic operations and innovation.”

To keep busy foodservice executives up to speed on restaurant and food-and-beverage developments within the fast growing markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, Technomic developed the BRIC Newsletter.

Features from the premier issue include: 

·      McDonald’s Brazil recently rolled out the CBO (Chicken Bacon Onion) sandwich, which was originally developed for the European market. The premium sandwich features breaded chicken, bacon, bacon-spiked cheese, and spicy bacon-flavored sauce on a bun dotted with sesame seeds and bacon bits.

·      Cherkizovo, one of Russia’s leading poultry processors, has broken ground on a new poultry production complex. The facility in the Lipetsk region is expected to begin operations in 2013 and operate at full capacity by 2015. At full production, the complex will be able to produce about 500,000 metric tons of live poultry per year. Most of the country’s current plants are only able to produce between 15,000 and 20,000 metric tons annually, so the foodservice implications could be significant. 

·      Café Coffee Day, India’s largest coffee chain with more than 1,100 locations, is rolling out spinoff brands to meet growing consumer demand. The chain’s new Coffee Day Lounge is a concept geared towards young professionals and is expected to grow from its current 19 units to 100 by spring of 2013.

·      Burger King and its new master franchisee for Brazil are planning major expansions in the country. Burger King recently awarded its franchising business to an affiliate of private equity firm Vinci Partners as part of a joint-venture deal. The chain has about 110 franchised units located in Brazil.

·      Yum! Brands Inc. has offered to purchase a majority stake in Little Sheep, the Chinese hot-pot chain. The deal values the chain at $863.5 million, or about $.83 per share. Yum! Brands owns about 27 percent of the chain.

BRIC is a quarterly newsletter that covers all the major restaurant news in the four emerging markets of Brazil, China, India, and Russia, with an emphasis on both local chains as well as U.S.-based brands. Every issue of BRIC features an in-depth profile of a leading chain for each of the four countries. BRIC also covers recent local developments in the food-and-beverage space more broadly.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Growth, News, Burger King, McDonald's, Yum! Brands