中国消费者觉得被百胜（Yum Brands）出卖了。这个总部位于美国肯塔基州的快餐王国拥有肯德基（KFC）、必胜客（Pizza Hut）和塔可钟（Taco Bell）等品牌。百胜大举进入中国，因为透明、正直的西方餐饮公司形象而备受青睐。
another in China. How the company can bounce back.
Chinese consumers feel a bit betrayed by Yum Brands -- the Kentucky-based quick-service king, owner of restaurants KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. Yum is huge in China and has benefited there for its reputation as a transparent, upstanding Western food company.
But at the end of 2012, Chinese food investigators discovered that suppliers linked to Yum had fed their chicken more antibiotics than permitted. This past Monday, Yum (YUM) faced another PR disaster when reports suggested Chinese regulators started investigating a mutton supplier possibly tied to the company's hot pot franchise Little Sheep.
The fallout from the antibiotics issue was immense, and Yum has launched a supply-chain assessment program called "Operation Thunder" to address it, CEO David Novak said during the company's 2013 first-quarter earnings call. The company can't afford a string of food quality problems in China.
"There's no getting around it, this is a market where double-digit same-store sales increases were the norm for the past decade," says Euromonitor's head of consumer foodservice research Michael Schaefer. "I don't think this is something they're going to address with window dressing."
Yum must get to the bottom of its supply chain issues, in part, because the consumer response to its chicken problems was so quick and violent. Yum's China division saw a 41% fall in operating profit in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same time the previous year -- from $258 million to $154 million.
Chinese consumers are fed up with quality control issues, Schaefer says. "As people become wealthier, as living standards rise, you get this sense of, 'Why can't we have safe food? Why does this keep happening?'" So when consumers felt Yum had a transparency problem, he says, "It wasn't just fear, it was anger."
At the earnings call, Yum CEO Novak says he expects to get the company back to its double-digit growth rate by the end of 2014. He has his work cut out for him.
An avian bird flu scare broke out in early April, and while it doesn't affect cooked chicken or reflect on Yum's practices, it triggers an emotional response that drives customers away. And now mutton.
When you have the strength Yum does in China, these problems become part of the business. Yum needs this market, despite the risks, so what to do?
Part of the difficulty in solving the problem is that the company had a great reputation for supply-chain management for so long. "One of the reasons why Yum Brands has been doing so well in China is because, for the better part of 20 years, they've had a really strong team on the ground," Schaefer says. "No one really felt that they were playing fast and loose, and I still don't think there's that feeling."