Since 1940, McDonald’s has risen to prominence as the most popular fast food restaurant on the planet, boasting more than 36,000 locations across the world in nearly 120 countries as of 2012. However, sometimes the mighty fall. In 2014, rumblings began that McDonald’s was losing customers.
In the 2000s, inspired partly by the film Supersize Me by Morgan Spurlock, the nation was tuned into the fatty and caloric content of most fast food menu items. In the years to come, chains like McDonald’s have been forced to change with the times and offer healthier foods with ingredients that are not as damaging to dieters.
Of course, some would argue that McDonald’s is still far from achieving his end, and as such many are turning away from the familiar Golden Arches. Others are deterred by the ever-increasing prices, which need to grow for the chain to afford fresh, natural ingredients.
As McDonald’s rolls out a new plan to draw people back in (including a revamped menu and delivery options), only time will what will happen in the United States and beyond. However, for other parts of the world, their collective minds are already made up regarding Mickey D’s. Many of these countries have not had a single McDonald’s drive-thru for years if ever, and that won’t change.
The reasons why McDonald’s was outright banned vary wildly, but all of them are quite surprising. As it suffers in its homeland, the fast food chain may wish that it had restaurants in some of these countries.
10. Cheapening the Culture (Bermuda)
While the company/consumer relationship may be a little unclear at time, Bermuda’s population has made its preferences and opinions on McDonald’s starkly clear.
Way back in 1999, the chain attempted to expand to the beautiful beachside country. Upon hearing the news, the residents spoke up to their local government. In the end, officials drew up a law that not only prevented McDonald’s from building a single restaurant in the country, but any other chains just like it.
One local, a lovely old woman named Phyllis Harron, succinctly summed up how many of these countries feel about Mickey D’s when she talked to a Bermuda news publication: “It is not Bermudian. McDonald’s cheapens wherever it goes.”
9. Contract Terminations (Macedonia)
Some countries have allowed McDonald’s on foreign soil but later decide to renege on the deal, as was the case in Macedonia. For the better part of 16 years, Mickey D’s had a thriving group of seven restaurants in this country, including one in Skopje, Macedonia’s capital.
However, in 2013, McDonald’s Europe’s head of communications, Agnes Vadnai, announced that Macedonia no longer wanted the seven restaurants open after a conflict had arisen between it and the country. As a result, Macedonia cut McDonald’s Europe’s operation licenses, forcing the chain to shut down.
In the two years since that news broke, not much has changed. In fact, in Macedonia, residents are trying to open up a cheeseburger restaurant to fill any gap that McDonald’s absence has left.
8. Bad Economy (Yemen)
Although this may not be true for much longer, a McDonald’s restaurant in your country is thought to be a benchmark for economic health and prosperity. The more chains you have, the better your economy is supposedly doing.
Some countries are in such poor condition that McDonald’s doesn’t even want to open its restaurants there. Yemen is one such example. It’s thought that even though the restaurant’s food is considered cheap to some, it’s just not affordable enough for Yemen’s residents.
Sometimes religious conflicts break out in the country, especially over brands that have migrated over from the US – another reason McDonald’s has decided to stay away. Fast food fans in Yemen will have to venture over to Abu Dhabi or Dubai for a Fillet O’ Fish or a quarter pounder with cheese.
7. Poor Sales (Barbados)
Sometimes, even if a country is a financial and economic option to open a McDonald’s, that doesn’t always mean that the restaurant will succeed. That was what happened in Barbados. A single franchise saw its grand opening way back in 1996, but before the calendar year turned to 1997, the Golden Arches were no more.
In the case of Barbadians, they had better options to choose from than what was found on a McDonald’s menu. Rather than go to the drive-thru for a fish meal, fresh seafood caught right off the shimmering waters is a more appealing option. Although the efforts to build the restaurant took place nearly 20 years ago, McDonald’s has not opted to reopen any locations in Barbados.
6. Preference for Other Food (Bolivia)
Much like Macedonia, Bolivia also once had various McDonald’s locations scattered across the country, with eight total in such cities as Santa Cruz de la Sierra and La Paz. In this case, the relationship lasted for 14 years, before Bolivia became the first brave country in all of Latin America to cut the restaurant.
After a documentary was produced in Bolivia as an expose on why McDonald’s failed, it was revealed that residents just didn’t prefer the greasy burgers and cheap fries over other foods available. As a result, they stopped going and McDonald’s sales dropped to the point of closing all eight locations.
If Mickey D’s wants to return to Bolivia, though, it’s going to be a hard fight. The country’s President, Evo Morales, made a statement about the franchise, claiming that McDonald’s isn’t “interested in the health of human beings, only in their earnings and corporate profits.” Ouch.
5. Currency Drop (Iceland)
There were only three McDonald’s restaurants in Iceland, but one was in Reykjavik, the esteemed country’s capital. However, no one could have foreseen what would happen in 2009.
The Icelandic currency, the krona, dropped that year, which led to a dramatic financial and economic decline. As mentioned, McDonald’s only prefers to have its restaurants in countries where its residents can afford a Big Mac and a Coke.
McDonald’s Iceland’s Managing Director, Magnus Ogmundsson, spoke out about the closings shortly after they occurred, claiming that keeping the chains open amidst the economic uncertainty was not wise. Indeed, the costs to import the ingredients needed to make burgers and other foods was getting excessively high, and so McDonald’s closed shop and disappeared, never to be seen in Iceland again.
4. Lack of Healthy Options (Montenegro)
Many other countries, including Iceland, Bolivia, and Barbados, found that McDonald’s didn’t really have the healthiest options on its menu, even with meals that it was purporting were better for you. Montenegro housed just one set of Golden Arches in its capital of Podgorica more than 10 years ago.
McDonald’s didn’t build more locations because of some confusion between the franchise and the Montenegrin government. Supposedly, Mickey D’s believed that the country’s officials had banned the chain due to is fattening foods. That was enough of a story for McDonald’s to pack up the Podgorica location and hightail it out of Montenegro.
For what it’s worth, the Public Relations Bureau of the Government of Montenegro later cleared the air and explained why McDonald’s was out. “No company, not even McDonald’s, is ‘forbidden’ to do business in Montenegro,” the Bureau said in a press release.
While that may be the case, McDonald’s has made no efforts to come back to the country.
3. Political Reasons (Zimbabwe)
Politics and cheap cheeseburgers just do not mix. McDonald’s was just in the process of building a few locations across Zimbabwe in the 2000s, including one in Harare (the capital), when the country broke out into complete and total political unrest.
In the process, Zimbabwe’s economy sank. Bans and sanctions from government officials during this tumultuous time prevented not just McDonald’s but also other international franchises from setting down roots.
The sanctions may have been lifted since Zimbabwe’s economy has since recovered. Back in 2010, McDonald’s was supposedly attempting to do business and build restaurants in the country, but this never came to fruition.
2. Sanctions Against the US (North Korea)
North Korea prefers to keep anything produced in the US far away from its borders. McDonald’s never had a chance in the country, especially since airtight sanctions were put into place by the United Nations in 2006. North Korea was supposedly displeased with the US’s human rights policies.
Of course, rules are meant to be broken, at least if you’re a high-ranking official in North Korea. Kim Jong-un and some of his men use Air Koryo, the North Korean airlines, to get some Big Macs and fries delivered directly from China. Jong-un also prefers Omega jewelry, Armani goods, and Hennessy Cognac, so McDonald’s is in good company.
1. McDonald’s Just Isn’t Wanted (Ghana)
McDonald’s may have deemed Ghana’s residents to be too financially unstable to be worthwhile of earning one of its restaurants. However, that didn’t stop Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC from landing a prime spot in Accra, Ghana’s capital.
Perhaps, then, if Mickey D’s wanted to, the chain could build its Golden Arches across the street from Colonel Sanders’ perpetually smiling face. However, Ghana has decided that it would rather not have a McDonald’s restaurant in its country.
Specializing in the fields of oil and mining, Ghana actually likens itself as the Switzerland of Africa. These undertakings are the country’s primary means of income. Residents believe that having McDonald’s on its grounds would only sully its progress and economy.
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