Residents queued for hours to eat at Myanmar’s first KFC outlet

Explosive Growth
Explosive Growth

Myanmar might need more electricity, medical equipment, and financial services, but at least it’s got a KFC now. The nation’s first major US fast-food outlet opened in Yangon yesterday, and by lunchtime people were forming long lines to get in.

People line up to buy fried chicken at a KFC branch during its opening day in Yangon
Can’t wait to get in there. (Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)

Businessman Kyaw Moe queued for three hours to buy chicken for his family from KFC, which has restaurants in 120 countries. “It is internationally famous, so I think it must be healthy,” he said.

Foreign fast-food outlets are not completely new in Yangon. South Korean burger chain Lotteria opened in 2013 and now has more than a half-dozen outlets in Myanmar.

And such first-mover advantage in an under-penetrated market can pay off for years in customer loyalty. Dunkin’ Donuts opened an Indonesian outlet in Jakarta in 1985. While the franchise today faces a host of local and foreign competitors in Indonesia—and has hundreds of outlets across the nation—back then it offered a brand-new premium experience. Its donuts worked their way into the cultural tradition of bringing oleh-oleh—small gifts from a recently visited place—back to one’s village.

KFC could make a similar impression in Myanmar, also known as Burma. “Now young people here can eat like young people in other countries,” 18-year-old student Htet Ei told AFP. “I’ll always come here.”

home our picks popular latest obsessions search