Peruvian gastronomy expanding abroad through franchises

In the 1990s, the big names of American fast food, such as Burger King and McDonald's, saw an opportunity in Peru. But they did not foresee that they would have to fight an extremely resilient rival in the Andean country.

Bembos, a local burger chain, not only survived the invasion of Whoppers and Big Macs but emerged as king of the burger market. And now, 15 years after the first McDonald's opened its doors in Lima, Bembos owns roughly 50 percent of the market.
Exporting its successful experience abroad, Bembos is expanding beyond the Peruvian borders -- beginning in India, where it has opened three fast-food restaurants that sell burgers made of anything but beef -- lamb, soy or beans.

Bembos is not an isolated case. Indeed, a number of successful Peruvian restaurants, from fast food to gourmet, have begun to sell Peruvian cuisine all over Latin America and are eyeing more-difficult markets, such as the United States.

China Wok, a Peruvian food chain specializing in ‘chifa’, a tasty mix of local and Chinese flavors, already has 50 restaurants in seven Latin American countries, and it plans to enter the U.S. market next year.

According to the manager, Carlos León Velarde, it has already begun negotiations with businessmen from the East Coast. ‘It will be our entrance door to the American market,' he said.

Pardo's Chicken, a popular roasted chicken fast-food chain, opened its first restaurant in the United States in 2006, in New York's West Village, and this year it will open two more -- one in Coral Gables and the other in Mexico City.
To explain the chain's success, Arnold Wu, the company's CEO, talks about what he calls the 'Peruvian taste' and Pardo's secret formula, made of a mix of 14 ingredients imported from Peru.

But not all the international expansion comes from the fast-food chains.
Higher-end restaurants are also making inroads in the international market.
One of the first of this kind of restaurant to cross the Atlantic is Astrid y Gastón, which in 2007 opened in Madrid's most exclusive zone.

This year the owner, Gastón Acurio, one of Peru's most prominent chefs, is opening another restaurant, La Mar, specializing in marine dishes, in the San Francisco Bay area, with an investment of about $6 million. Acurio says soon there will be La Mar restaurants in New York, Las Vegas and Florida.

'It's time for the Peruvian cuisine to make the big leap to achieve global recognition,' said Acurio. He thinks this global expansion can get help from foreign investors who find it is profitable to invest in Peruvian cuisine, because of both its quality and the fact that other national cuisines are overexposed.
The Peruvian government is also part of the collective effort to sell the national cuisine abroad.

According to Mara Seminario, tourism director of Promperu, the National Committee for the Promotion of Exports and Tourism, Peru is participating in gastronomic fairs around the world with the motto ‘Perú, mucho gusto,' a phrase that plays with the double meaning of ‘mucho gusto’ – ‘nice to meet you,’ and ‘very tasty.’ Also, the government has declared the national cuisine as one of its seven ‘flag products’ to be actively promoted abroad.

‘Peruvian food is unique. The first wave of Peruvian restaurants outside the country were made by immigrants, but this second one is of a much better quality and mixes tradition with modernism, sophistication with history,’ Seminario said.

Among the Peruvian dishes that already attract global attention are ceviche, a raw fish cooked in lime juice, and causa, mashed potatoes mixed with fish or seafood.
Peru is also selling itself as a gastronomic destination. Statistics from Promperu show that in 2007 more than 20,000 visitors came to the country to do ‘gastronomic tourism’ -- paying an average of $3,500 to eat at exclusive restaurants, visit local markets and visit fishing ports.

Source: Miami Herald

1 comment:

mubidia said...

About the article loved it! who may thought talking about the food business will be so tasty: "But they did not foresee that they would have to fight an extremely resilent rival in the Andean country". Very nicely done.

El Espia Culinario
Club de Peruanos.com