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Thu 12 Jul 2012 11:47 AM

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GCC diners don't want healthy fast food - pizza boss

Pizza chain Papa John's expects to grow regional business 15 to 25 percent in next two years

GCC diners don't want healthy fast food - pizza boss
John Schnatter, CEO and founder, Papa Johns.

Consumers in the Middle East are not interested in healthy fast food alternatives, the founder of US pizza chain Papa John’s told Arabian Business

The Kentucky-based firm, which operates 84 outlets in the GCC, expects to grow its regional business by 15-25 percent over the next two years, said John Schnatter, who is also CEO.

“People say they want [a health-conscious pizza], but then they do not eat it. They always go back to the original product,” he said.

Schnatter said that the chain has investigated healthier alternatives in terms of ingredients. “We have the ability to do a whole wheat crust. We have looked at the cheese and [other ingredients], so we are experimenting with it and we have tested it,” he added.

Papa John’s, which competes with Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza, said it expects revenues in the UAE to top AED100m (US$27.2m) by 2014.

“I think we are going to be around 15-25 percent growth this year, and in the next two years,” he said. “The UAE is a great market, we love this market. I wish I had more like it,” he added.

The Middle East has seen a surge in fast food chains entering the market and expanding in recent years as international brands look to bolster sales amid increased competition in their domestic markets.

High demand from locals and expats make the region a strong market for a wide range of concepts, especially in Gulf countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Fast food sales in Saudi Arabia are expected reach US$4.5bn in the next three years, driven by orders from the young and affluent, according to a recent report by Euromonitor.

Papa John’s, the world’s third largest pizza chain, said revenues reached US$1.2bn in 2011, an eight percent increase compared to the previous year.

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lara 7 years ago

With all due respect, I totally disagree with Schnatter's comment: “People say they want [a health-conscious pizza], but then they do not eat it. They always go back to the original product,”.

Dozens of people I know, myself included, have happily and permanently switched from Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Papa John's, Round Table Pizza, and a host of others to N_K_D Pizza - the healthier alternative.

We'll still eat from the others but only if we so happen to be at a food court and are craving pizza. As a conscious first choice, it's N_K_D.

petition to make junk food punishable by law 7 years ago

"Schnatter said that the chain has investigated healthier alternatives in terms of ingredients...."
question:what on earth are they using for ingredients on their pizza's at present...
we hear about obesity & diabetes & how fatties account for an additional 1 billion people on earth creating the unnecessary strain on our food source, economies, health care systems, environment (junk food produces pollution beyond belief), & the uncomfort for those who maintain fit physiques as fatties take up more space, release nasty fast food grease from their pores when they perspire, & are an eye sore (face the facts - fat is ugly) & the poor children unaware they are being fed garabge due to fatty parents who dont care. fast food is worse than illegal drugs. purveyors should be sentenced to life in prison & those who 'need' it admitted for treatment. its the worst thing for your body - yet people want more??? UAE plz take charge and close em down. lets be the first to show we dont need fat food

Anonymous 7 years ago

You are 1 in 1,000 and consumers like you are not going to impact chains like Papa John's bottom line profit by even 1%. I have tried N_K_D and its ok but is it worth the higher price? I am not sure. Some customers buying decisions are based on what is healthy but not enough to impact big chains like Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, Dominos, etc.

Mr Healthy 7 years ago

Offically the dumbest thing i have read all week! This comes down purely to a lack of education and awareness on the importance of eating healthy.. Perhaps these people should look at the obesity figures or even the diabetes figures in the region.. When they see that the UAE alone has almost the highest number of diabetics IN THE WORLD this might change their mind.. And let’s not forget - Heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, CANCER, obesity, DEATH!!!! just to name a few!! Your life is a gift and your body is the transportation. Why would you abuse it by eating junk!?

The sooner this awareness rolls into the middle east and people realise the problems and illness's you get with a bad diet the sooner people will live longer and happier lives! Let’s face it - YOU ARE WHAT YOUR EAT!!!

Hisham 7 years ago

As long as the big bucks keep rolling in, who cares about the people right? After all, these companies are all about the bottom line: by any means necessary...

Of course consumers should take their responsibility as well, but American fastfood chains could definitely do their part to make their "food" a little bit more "real", instead of all the crazy artificial this artificial that...

pizza man 7 years ago

well said.

Anonymous 7 years ago

Throw social responsibility out of the window then Mr. Schnatter. Your comments are shameful. Some of us who have lived here for some time might politely disagree with your cavalier approach to the health of this region.

Are you going to continue to knowingly prey on consumers, taking advantage of a learning society? Are GCC consumers somehow different than the rest of the world...perhaps not wanting to be healthier, not deserved of a more thoughtful and responsible approach? Of course you love this region...fast profits make shareholders happy and your bonus.

Yes, this is a fast growing emerging market and diet related health issues have historically not been in the limelight but things are changing...question is ...are you?

Tariq 7 years ago

They have obviously never discovered Kcal healthy Fast food in JLT..

These guys have hit the nail on the head, Great food that everyone loves but cooked a healthy was and without fatty ingredients!

ian 7 years ago

agree with all the comments.

from - converted to NKD pizza and haven't eaten an unhealthy one since

Stevie Wonder 7 years ago

What is the big deal? People know fast food is not healthy for you. The key is not to eat it seven days a week. McDonald's Salad option with the dressing has more fat and salt than their burgers. If you dont like it vote with your wallet, stay at home and make a meal with your kids instead.