KFC Expands Into Sub-Saharan Africa


Yum! Brands, Inc. is planning to more than double its number of KFC outlets in Africa to 1,200 by 2014, according to the recent Wall Street Journal article “KFC Savors Potential in Africa.” Author Julie Jargon explains how Yum—whose brands include Long John Silver’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell—is already well established in South Africa and is expanding to Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia, and several other African countries.

Yum is expecting its annual profits will grow $120 million from its African operations by 2014. About 40 percent of Africans now live in urban areas, and families with disposable incomes are expected to rise by 50 percent by 2020, according to the article. In Africa, KFC attracts both affluent customers, as well as low-income consumers who will save for months for one of their chicken dinners.

“People are now focusing on the emerging world, with a bit of a gold rush going on,” according to Yum Restaurants International CEO, Graham Allan. Yum’s chairman, David Novak, says, “Africa wasn’t even on our radar screen 10 years ago, but now we see it exploding with opportunity.” As the growth of fast food wanes in the developed world, American restaurant and retail companies are expanding into the developing world.

But the steady growth rates of obesity in the United States are a red flag for countries where fast food companies are expanding. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. obesity rate has increased dramatically in the past 20 years and is now above 20 percent in 49 states. Obesity seriously increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Nearly 240 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are chronically hungry. As progress is made to improve incomes and access to food throughout the continent, it will be important to ensure that food promotes health rather than hinders it.

KFC often imports its chicken from South Africa and Brazil, according to Jargon. The company has very particular specifications for its chicken, ensuring the consistency of its product worldwide. It’s likely that many African countries will resist imports of animal products and KFC may have to set up local, large-scale or industrial chicken production operations in those countries.

Factory farming, or confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), can have a disastrous impact on the environment. The confinement of thousands of animals creates concentrated runoff of animal manure, often polluting water resources.

“We share the general view that Africa over the next 10 to 20 years will have massive potential,” says Mr. Allen in the Wall Street Journal article. New outside investment on the continent has the potential to bring new opportunities for Africans. But avoiding the environmental and human health mistakes made in the developed world will take careful consideration.

By Matt Styslinger

Danielle Nierenberg
Danielle Nierenberg, an expert on livestock and sustainability, currently serves as Project Director of State of World 2011 for the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, DC-based environmental think tank. Her knowledge of factory farming and its global spread and sustainable agriculture has been cited widely in the New York Times Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, and
other publications.

Danielle worked for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. She is currently traveling across Africa looking at innovations that are working to alleviate hunger and poverty and blogging everyday at Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet. She has a regular column with the Mail & Guardian, the Kansas City Star, and the Huffington Post and her writing was been featured in newspapers across Africa including the Cape Town Argus, the Zambia Daily Mail, Coast Week (Kenya), and other African publications. She holds an M.S. in agriculture, food, and environment from Tufts University and a B.A. in environmental policy from Monmouth College.
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