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McDonald's CEO says Gaza boycott campaign hurting MENA sales

McDonald's CEO says Gaza boycott campaign hurting sales in MENA region
2 min read
05 January, 2024
McDonald's' CEO blamed the blow to sales in the Middle East and North Africa region on 'misinformation' related to its ties with Israel.
McDonald's was targeted by a global boycott campaign when its Israeli franchise handed out thousands of meals to soldiers for free [Getty/file photo]

The CEO of McDonald's has said that the fast food franchise's business in the Middle East region has been hurt by boycotts carried out in protest of the company's perceived support for Israel in its war on Gaza.

Chief executive Chris Kempczinski claimed that "misinformation" was fuelling the boycott campaigns that were "harming operations" for the business.

Pro-Palestinian activists encouraged a boycott of McDonald’s after it was revealed that its franchise in Israel was handing out free meals to thousands of Israeli soldiers at the start of Tel Aviv's air and ground assault on the Gaza Strip, which has so far killed over 22,000 Palestinians.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian grassroots campaign that lists which companies ought to be boycotted and why, listed McDonald’s as an "organic boycott target", saying that the fast food chain "is profiting from the Genocide of the Palestinian people".

McDonald's later claimed that it has "no position" on the deadly war, and that it was not responsible for the actions of its franchisees, who pay the company a fee to license its brand and recipes.

In a post shared to LinkedIn on Thursday, Kempczinski said regarding the impact on business: "This is disheartening and ill-founded. In every country where we operate, including Muslim countries, McDonald’s is proudly represented by local owner operators who work tirelessly to serve and support their communities while employing thousands of their fellow citizens.

"Our hearts remain with the communities and families impacted by the war in the Middle East. We abhor violence of any kind and firmly stand against hate speech, and we will always proudly open our doors to everyone."

Other franchises of Western companies have been subject to similar boycotts and subsequent negative sales. Famed coffee chain Starbucks has been boycotted by pro-Palestinian activists and consumers globally, including in the Middle East.

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The coffee company became the target of the boycott campaign after it sued Starbucks Workers United for posting a social media post in support of Palestine.

McDonald's has seen a significant decline in Egypt of its sales, which decreased by 70 percent in October and November compared to the same two months of last year 2022.

The majority of McDonald's franchisees in the Middle East and North Africa published statements in solidarity with Palestinians at the onset of Israel's military campaign in Gaza, with many pledging to donate to those suffering in the enclave.