KFC shows how to change Myanmar's eating habits

YANGON -- For international restaurant chains, the race is on to get into Myanmar. Following the recent opening of a KFC restaurant, Japanese trading house Sojitz Group announced a partnership with a Myanmar company to provide logistics for refrigerated deliveries of temperature-sensitive foods.

A crowd gathers outside Myanmar's first KFC, in Yangon. Myanmar's first KFC opened July 7 in the Yangon commercial hub of Bogyoke Aung San Market. A long line quickly snaked out the door, and it has yet to disappear. Inside, workers in black shirts and red hats tear around the 240-seat eatery. "When I travel to Bangkok for business," Thein Htut, a Yangon-based consultant, said with a big smile, "I always go to KFC restaurants there. Now I can go to one near my office."

The Yangon KFC offers a standard set - two pieces of fried chicken, french fries and a drink - for 3,500 kyat (S$4). It also does a little fusion, using its chicken in a traditional curry and rice dish that goes for 2,000 kyat. This is on the expensive side. Yangon residents spend an average 1,000 kyat to 1,500 kyat for lunch.

Yoma Strategic Holdings, a real estate development conglomerate, obtained its KFC franchise license from Yum Brands of the US It plans to open several more KFCs in Myanmar this year.

At the eatery's grand opening, Melvyn Pun, CEO elect of Yoma Strategic, stressed that KFC will usher Myanmar into its fast-food future. Pun is to be approved as CEO at Yoma Strategic's annual general meeting on July 27.

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