KFC Malaysia Temporarily Closes Outlets Amid Boycott Calls Over Israel-Gaza Conflict

KFC Malaysia temporarily closes over 100 outlets due to a nationwide boycott sparked by Israel's war on Gaza. The boycott, part of the global BDS movement, targets American and Israeli products, affecting companies like McDonald's and Starbucks.

Ayesha Mumtaz
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KFC MalaysiaTemporarily Closes Outlets Amid BoycottCalls Over Israel-Gaza Conflict

KFC Malaysia Temporarily Closes Outlets Amid Boycott Calls Over Israel-Gaza Conflict

KFC Malaysia, along with other American fast-food chains McDonald's and Starbucks, has become a target of a nationwideboycott movement in Malaysia. The boycott is a response to Israel's ongoing war on Gaza, with protesters calling for a boycott of American and Israeli products. As a result, KFC Malaysia has temporarily closed some of its outlets in the country.

The boycott movement highlights the growing pressure on international companies to take a stance on geopolitical issues, and its impact can be felt beyond Malaysia, influencing consumer behavior and business strategies globally. This trend may lead to a shift in the way companies navigate complex political issues, balancing their business interests with social responsibility.

The boycott movement is part of a larger trend of Malaysians expressing solidarity with Palestinians and condemning Israel's actions in Gaza. The movement has gained momentum, with many Malaysians taking to social media to call for a boycott of American and Israeli products.

KFC Malaysia, operated by QSR Brands, hastemporarily closed over 100 outletsacross the country due to increasing business costs and the boycott by pro-Palestinian activists. The boycott began in October 2023 in response to KFC's U.S.-based parent company, Yum Brands, investing in an Israeli startup. The move affects 18,000 employees in Malaysia, with about 85% of them being Muslim.

In response to the boycott, KFC Malaysia has shifted its branding strategy to emphasize its Malaysian ownership by Johor Corporation. However, 11 outlets in the state of Kedah have closed, and staff salaries have been slashed by half. Other U.S.-based brands, such as Starbucks and McDonald's, are also facing boycotts due to their perceived links to Israel.

Berjaya Food, which owns 400 Starbucks stores in Malaysia, reported a net loss of $8.95 million from October to December 2023. QSR Brands, which operates KFC restaurants in Singapore, Brunei, and Cambodia, as well as over 480 Pizza Hut stores in Malaysia and Singapore, has also been impacted by the boycott.

Why this matters: Luqa AbuFarah, North America Coordinator of the BDS National Committee, stated, "The BDS was the most effective way for people of conscience to put their solidarity with Palestinian human rights into action." QSR Brands emphasized in a statement, "Contributing positively to the Malaysian community, preserving the brand love for KFC, and protecting employees of the brand were all priority to the organisation."

The boycott is part of the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to punish Israel for its actions in Gaza and the West Bank. The movement has gained momentum in Muslim-majority countries, with Malaysia and Indonesia taking the lead in boycotting Israeli products. The impact of the boycott has been felt globally, with companies like McDonald's experiencing a dip in sales in international markets.

The temporary closure of KFC outlets in Malaysia highlights the growing pressure faced by American and Israeli companies in Muslim-majority countries due to the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict. As the boycott movement continues to gain traction, it remains to be seen how these companies will navigate the challenging business environment while addressing the concerns of their customers and employees.

Key Takeaways

  • KFC Malaysia closes 100+ outlets due to boycott over Israeli ties.
  • Boycott movement targets American and Israeli products in Malaysia.
  • 18,000 KFC employees in Malaysia affected, mostly Muslim.
  • Other US brands like Starbucks and McDonald's also face boycotts.
  • Global BDS movement gains momentum, impacting business strategies.