U.S. fast food companies report gains in China

Leading U.S. fast food companies are posting gains for 2023 on par with the fast growth of 20% in the Chinese catering industry. Yum China Holdings said that its full-year sales in 2023 rose 21% year-on-year, with operating profit surging 76% to USD1.1 billion. The company, which has the largest chain store network in China – 14,000 restaurants across 2,000 cities under six brands including KFC and Pizza Hut – plans to further tap the opportunity of China's vast market. Joey Wat, CEO of Yum China, said in a press release that the company is serving just one-third of China's population, and ambitiously plans to “extend its reach to half of the population by 2026” with new stores in lower-tier cities.

McDonald's, which boosted its stake in its China business last November, also expects further expansion and plans to open 1,000 restaurants in China in 2024, according to Bloomberg News. McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski was quoted as restating the company's goal of having more than 10,000 restaurants in China by the end of 2028.

On January 30, Starbucks issued its first-quarter report for fiscal 2024, which ended on December 31. The company's China's business saw revenues rising 18% to USD735 million. China comparable store sales grew 10%, doubling the rate of the North America and U.S. submarket. The revenue gains posted by U.S. fast food giants are largely in line with the growth of the Chinese catering industry in 2023, as the Covid-battered sector staged a strong comeback.

According to China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the catering industry achieved revenues of CNY5.29 trillion, up 20.4% year-on-year. China embraces investments from businesses of all countries with open arms, and it will continue to foster a market-oriented, law-based and world-class business environment to share with the world the new opportunities brought by Chinese modernization and pursue common development, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a press briefing on February 2. A recent report released by the American Chamber of Commerce also showed that half of U.S. companies surveyed see China as the top or among the top three global destinations for investment, up by 5 percentage points compared with 2022, the Global Times reports.