Whoppers Sizzle in Steak Land as Burger King Rises in Brazil


 Dominant McDonald’s sees rival add site every three-four days

 Recession-wracked populace skipping expensive steak houses


By Gerson Freitas Jr, Bloomberg

January 9, 2019


Brazil, known for its unique steak houses and premium beef exports, is seeing a growing appetite for a different type of meal, Burger King’s 680-calorie whopper.


Burger King is opening a new site in Brazil every three to four days, said Iuri Miranda, chief executive officer of BK Brasil SA, the world’s fastest-growing restaurant operator by revenue. With 736 sites since 2011, BK Brasil is challenging McDonald’s Corp. for Brazil’s fast-food crown. McDonald’s, which opened its first restaurant in Rio de Janeiro in 1979, has 939 in place.


A churrascaria, where slabs of barbecued beef are cut at your table’s edge, can cost 167 reals (or $45) per person for dinner, no drinks included. A Whopper costs just 21 reais at a time when South America’s largest economy is struggling to recover from a once-in-a-century recession.


"Fast-food chains were the only ones that didn’t suffer” during the economic crisis, benefiting from an expanded lower-middle class keen for eating in restaurants, said Leticia Menegon, a business professor at ESPM-SP, the Superior School of Advertising and Marketing in Brazil. Now, "people are changing their eating habits," she added, with hamburgers having becoming increasingly popular among Brazilians from all classes.


With chains running only 10 percent of Brazil’s restaurants, compared with 60 percent in the U.S., there’s room for BK Brasil to expand, according to Miranda. The company has diversified its growth into small, prosperous cities in the country’s countryside, such as Campo Mourao, a town in Parana state with a population of 94,000 people that produces soybeans and corn. "We see no reasons for a slowdown in the medium term," he said in an interview at Bloomberg offices in Sao Paulo. "We continue to see market growth."


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