KFC to take a bite of Myanmar market

YANGON - KFC is poised to become the first major US fast food retailer in Myanmar, the company's local business partner announced Tuesday, as the long-isolated nation braces for an influx of international food outlets.

The fried chicken retailer, one of the world's largest restaurant chains, plans to open its first branch in downtown Yangon, according to a statement by Myanmar franchise holder Yoma Strategic.

It will become "the first major American quick service restaurant to establish a foothold in Myanmar", the statement said, without giving an exact date for the opening.

Yoma said it planned to open "several more" restaurants in the country's bustling commercial hub by the end of the year.

Myanmar has seen a flood of foreign brands since the end of outright military rule in 2011, which prompted the lifting of many Western sanctions.

US firms including drinks makers Coca Cola and Pepsi and carmakers Chevrolet and Ford have already established a sales presence in the country.

KFC has more than 15,000 restaurants in countries across the world. If the Myanmar launch goes ahead, Laos will be the only remaining South East Asian nation without the global franchise.

But the spread of American-style fast food across the world has gone hand in hand with fears over expanding waistlines.

In February, KFC Philippines shrugged off criticism for selling a hotdog wrapped in fried chicken instead of bread and covered in cheese sauce, the "Double Down Dog", saying it had a similar calorie count to a double cheeseburger.

KFC Myanmar's Facebook page has already attracted 120,000 'likes'.

But while "The Colonel" might have beaten other major US restaurant chains into the frontier Asian market, it is certainly not the first foreign fast food firm to open in Myanmar.

South Korea's Lotteria burger restaurant opened its first branch in 2013 and now has seven outlets in the country, according to its websiteone of those in the country's second largest city Mandalay.