Although it's considered the indisputable symbol of fast food worldwide, McDonald’s has had difficulty establishing itself in many countries.
The company has more than 34,000 restaurants in 118 countries, containing 1.8 million employees and serving nearly 69 million people. More than 80% of the restaurants are owned by multiple franchisees, and although the company is headquartered is in the United States, McDonald’s revenue mainly stems from other countries.
What surprises many people is the McDonald’s absence from multiple countries, which has put a dent in the fast-food giant's desire to be the world's most ubiquitous company. A lack of economic progress and stability are some of the likely reasons for McDonald’s absence in these countries, but in addition, politics and personal preferences probably come into play. The countries where McDonald's has not been successful may see through the company's façade.
McDonald’s has never set foot into Cambodia, Ghana, or Yemen. The Cambodian and Ghanaian economies are gradually improving and rely on significant industries for economic progress. Cambodia’s strength mainly stems from agriculture, construction, tourism, and the textile industry, thus attracting foreign investments and trading partners. Known as the “Switzerland of Africa,” the Ghanaian economy encompasses mining, real estate, the oil industry, and the automobile industry. Since both countries are flourishing by basing their economies on concrete industries, McDonald’s would not necessarily contribute to either country’s development. Thus, any gained profit or benefit would be minimal for both countries.
However, Yemen is a different case since misfortune plagues its economy. The Middle Eastern country suffers from a dilapidated economy and high unemployment rate, ruining any opportunities for business or foreign investments. Thus, McDonald’s would be more of a liability than a profitable asset.
Bermuda, Bolivia, and Iceland are different from the previous three because they shut down the company. Ongoing disputes between local franchisees and McDonald’s headquarters caused the restaurant’s shutdown in Bermuda and Bolivia. In 1999, the Bermudian government instituted a ban against franchised restaurants in their country. During a protest by Bermudians, a man declared in the local press that “McDonald’s is not Bermudian and it cheapens wherever it goes.” The Bolivian government closed down McDonald’s after 14 years of operation. President Evo Morales condemned McDonald’s and all fast food restaurants in the Western Hemisphere for risking the health of millions for a profit. This implies that Bolivians prefer traditional foods over easily manufactured products.
Instead of public dissent, Iceland closed down McDonald’s because of an economic crisis. In 2009, the Icelandic krona decreased in value which forced the McDonald’s headquarters to shut down the restaurants. Jon Gardar Ogmundsson owned one of Iceland’s McDonald’s and noted the risk of maintaining the fast good giant: “It makes no sense. For a kilo of onions, I’m paying the equivalent of a bottle of good whiskey,” said Ogmundsson.
McDonald’s still remains absent from Macedonia, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Montenegro, and several more countries. Although the company is attempting to make some of its products more nutritional, McDonald’s still endures criticism in multiple countries, where people believe its food is unhealthy and manufactured.