14:22 GMT +321 September 2019
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    Passers-by keep their distance from Ronald McDonald as he sits outside the first McDonalds restaurant to be opened in Beijing on April 20, 1992.

    American Fast Food’s Boom in China: Result of Trade War or Progress?

    © AFP 2019 / MIKE FIALA
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    The largest American fast food restaurant chains are continuing to expand in China despite the ongoing trade dispute that has now lasted more than a year and continues to worsen.

    According to CNBC, McDonald's plans to open more than 400 new restaurants in China by the end of 2019 and to reach 4,500 by 2022. KFC is doing even better: with more than 6,000 branches in China and sales through online services bringing in $1.4 billion (according to the data from the second quarter of 2019). Over 10 years Starbucks has opened 3,600 coffee shops in China; by 2022, the company plans to increase this to 6,000.

    Chinese expert Yang Mian, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China University of Communications, explains why the ongoing China-US trade spat has not impacted this market segment.

    "McDonald's and KFC have been in China for a long time. Therefore, despite the rise in prices that occurred during the trade war, the companies remain stable due to a solid base created in previous years", said Yang Mian.

    Mian added that the trade war has the most noticeable effect on export and import products. Whereas public catering works according to a different system: all the employees of the fast-food restaurants in China are Chinese citizens and local ingredients are used to prepare the dishes. So the trade war, in fact, has very little impact on the development of these brands.

    CNBC has cited Aaron Allen & Associates Consulting Company Founder Aaron Allen, who believes that American restaurants benefit when the economy slows as fast food is the most economical dining option.

    However, according to Yang Mian, the rapid development of China is a key reason for the sector's continued growth.

    "All McDonald's and KFC products are fast food. And the main feature of fast food is that it can be quickly ordered. Besides, since the food itself is very simple, you do not need to wait long for it to be cooked, and you can it eat quickly. The pace of life is constantly increasing, so Chinese dishes, which are a bit more complicated, are a little less popular among young people than American fast food", the expert said.

    Mian noted that Chinese youngsters have been familiar with American fast food since childhood. But more than anything, they are attracted to its taste, as well as its exoticism, since in China it is perceived largely as a symbol of American pop culture.

    *Views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    fast food, Starbucks, KFC, McDonald's, China
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