Burger King breaks into Bangladesh market

By A.Z.M. ANAS, in Dhaka

- Last updated on GMT

Bangladesh has received its first Burger King restaurant in the country's capital of Dhaka
Bangladesh has received its first Burger King restaurant in the country's capital of Dhaka

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US fast food chain Burger King has opened its first outlet in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, predicting expansion amidst the country’s fast-growing economy and promising to target local meat procurement. 

Burger King has tapped Bangladesh-based Tiffin Box Ltd as its national franchisee: “Bangladesh is a growing market,”​ Neil Shah, general manger of Burger King Asia-Pacific, told GlobalMeatNews​ in an interview after the opening of the 198-seat restaurant. “It is also the eighth largest in the world in terms of population.

“Having a great partner is the best recipe for success. We found the match here with the right partner and the right market.”

The Asian Development Bank has projected Bangladesh’s GDP growth to be 7.1% in 2016 while its population is 163 million.

US ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat opened the outlet on December 9 2016 in the Bangladeshi capital’s upmarket Banani district.

“We are very excited to introduce the Burger King brand, and the flame-grilled Whopper to our guests in Bangladesh,”​ said Anthony Pagano, regional president of Burger King Asia-Pacific, in a statement. “We are proud to work with our partner, Tiffin Box Ltd, to bring our great tasting and freshly prepared food and an authentic guest experience to this market.”

Tiffin Box, an arm of the Bangla Trac Group, which has interests in infrastructure, power and telecommunications, has signed a long-term development agreement to launch and expand the Burger King brand in Bangladesh.

Shah said three to four more outlets could be opened as early as January, most of them in Dhaka, and many more in the coming years.

“Bringing Burger King restaurants to Bangladesh is a strategic move by Bangla Trac group to enter the QSR [quick service restaurant] sector,”​ said Tarique E Haque, managing director of Tiffin Box Ltd.

While not releasing detail on investment amounts, he said: “We are optimistic about the growth of the brand and we plan to become the leader in the fast-growing QSR sector in Bangladesh.”

The restaurant is now sourcing imported halal meat to ensure quality, however Haque said that the ultimate goal is to procure locally.

“We’ll not compromise with standards,”​ he told GlobalMeatNews.“We’re working with farmers and local vendors for this.”

Professor Nitish C Debnath, a consultant for the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation, said the launch would heat up competition in the country’s fast food sector, dominated by local and other international players such as KFC, Johnny Rockets and Nando’s. He also praised the plan to source meat locally, saying this would help develop the domestic industry. “It’s a matter of concern if they’re import-dependent.”

But he voiced concern over safety issues: “Fast food involves public health risks. The government has the responsibility to ensure food safety.”

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