International expansion is a big slice of pizza chains’ plans

Pizza, a food imported from Italy a century ago that became a multi-billion-dollar industry in teh United States, now is being exported to a gorwing number of foreign countries as the sector’s largest American brands establish a bigger worldwide presence.

Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Papa Johns’s PIzza are leading the charge, followed by Little Caesar’s.  The convenience factors of delivery and takeout, as well as the variety of pizza toppings that can be altered to different ethnic tastes, are propelling those brands into new international frontiers.

The article said:  “There are very viable new markets in certain countries, like in the Middle East, Brazil, Chile, all of Europe and Asia,” said Jerry McVety, a foodservice consultant in Farmington HIlls, Mich.

Dallas-based Pizza Hut had launched 4,770 pizzerias in 90 countries and territories as of the end of last year’s third quarter, compared with 7,500 domestically.  Claiming to be the first American chain to introduce pizza to China, in 1990, followed by home delivery in 2001, PIzza Hut now has more than 225 high-style restaurants in more than 50 Chinese cities and 33 delivery units in six of them.

The article said:  Pizza Hut in India was named the most trusted quick-service restaurant brand in taht country in each of the past three years in a survey conducted by the Economic Times magazine.  There were130 outposts of Pizza Hut in 32 Indian cities as of last summer.

Domino’s, with 8,200 units worldwide, had 3,138 foreign branches in 50 countries at the end of the third quarter, and a year-end tally due by the end of February is expected to show growth overseas.  The chain’s largest foreign markets are Mexico, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, said David Brandon, Domino’s chairman and chief executive.

Delivery has given Domino’s an edge internationally, since consumers in developed countries around the world are as time-stressed as U.S. consumers, Brandon said.  Domino’s has been able to adapt to delivery conditions in such congested places as Mexico City; Seoul, South Korea; and Taipei, Taiwan, by delivering pizzas via everything from bicycles to scooters, Brandon noted.

The article said:  “Adapting technology to locate customers is alittle bit tricky, but since we’re the world’s largest pizza delivery company and have been doing it for 46 years, we are confident we can adapt,” Brandon said.

The article said:  Papa John’s, based in Louisville, Ky., has planned to spruce up its international growth since hiring Robb Chase, a Pizza Hut veteran, as president of Papa John’s international division.  The third-largest pizza chian, currently with about 3,000 units globally, disclosed recently that about half of its openings in 2007 would be international, representing a growth rate oversease about 32 percent.

Papa John’s currently has about 350 units in 30 foreign countries, with the highest concentrations in China, South Korea, England and Ireland.

Chase said Papa John’s has made some “minor adaptations” to meet consumer demands in some countries by offering different toppings and larger dining rooms to accommodate bigger parties.  A current Papa John’s promotion in China is a pizza topped with baby lobster.

The article said:  “People want to go out for a foodservice experience with the idea of treating friends and family to dinner in a Western concept,” Chase said.

The article said: Pizza Hut has had success in China with several pizza varieties aimed to regional tastes, such as Seafood Catch, a mix including crab sticks, green peppers and pineapple; The Hot One, with chile peppers, onions, tomatoes, beef and spicy chicken; and Chicken Delight, with spicy chicken, green peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes.  Sauteed escargot in garlicky oil are popular appetizers among Pizza Hut’s Chinese customers, who also enjoy ostrich-topped pizzas.

In India, Pizza Hut’s customers can enjoy a menu htat includes tanroori and masala pizzas and a line of vegetarian dishes.

Among Domino’s topping options are squid in Japan, tuna and sweet corn in England and grilled lamb in the Netherlands.