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Russia’s “Vkusno i Tochka” Won’t Replace McDonald’s in Kazakhstan

By Vusala Abbasova January 10, 2023

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The statement came shortly after Bloomberg issued a report, claiming that famous American fast-food chain McDonald's is set to leave Kazakhstan due to disruptions in meat supplies triggered by Russia-Ukraine war. / rb.ru

Kazakhstan has no plans to replace McDonald’s with a Russian-owned chain of restaurants “Vkusno i Tochka.”

The announcement came from Asset Mashanov, who heads Food Solutions KZ, the company that managed the famous American fast-food chain in Kazakhstan.

“Vkusno i Tochka is a Russian chain. In our country, it cannot be called so until it becomes a Russian chain. We don’t consider the issue that it [chain in Kazakhstan] will be a Russian chain,” Mashanov said in an interview with journalists on Tuesday.

On January 4, Bloomberg issued a report, claiming that McDonald’s is set to leave Kazakhstan due to disruptions in meat supplies triggered by the Russia-Ukraine war. According to the report, although Kazakhstan does not fall under restrictive measures against Moscow, the fast-food giant banned its local franchisees from procuring cutlets from Russian suppliers, leaving the Central Asian country without a substitute for meat supplies. Before Russia began its military campaign in Ukraine, McDonald’s in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus relied on the same suppliers.

According to Mashanov, now the main task is to resume the work of restaurants which employed more than 2,000 Kazakhstanis.

“We are now developing a local brand. Our task now is to resume the operation of restaurants under a new brand. Perhaps now without any brand, later — under a new brand. Because we keep about 2,000 jobs. We continue to pay all wages, we fulfill terms. It is necessary to resume operations so that all this continues,” he clarified.

The head of Food Solutions KZ further added that he couldn’t say whether it would prompt the return of McDonald’s to Kazakhstan. “Possibly if they make sure that the terms are met, some geopolitical issues will be resolved, we do not exclude such an option, but we cannot decide for them.”

Fast food giant McDonald’s pulled out of Russia soon after Moscow launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, eventually selling its restaurants — more than 800 — to Russian businessman Alexander Govor. Later in June, several of its outlets reopened under the brand “Vkusno i Tochka,” which translates as “Tasty and that’s it.” It was supposed to be an adequate substitute for McDonald’s but removed any trace of its former name.

McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in Moscow in 1990, a sign of Soviet Russia forming closer economic and cultural ties with the West. McDonald’s used to employ more than 60,000 people in Russia. Since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in early 2022, Western nations have upped the pressure on Moscow through severe sanctions. Dozens of international companies, including McDonald’s and ExxonMobil, have abandoned or scaled back their operations in Russia as a result.

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan has established itself as a new suitable location for companies that want to keep their presence in Eurasia amid the current geopolitical developments. In mid-July, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed the government to create favorable conditions for the relocation of international businesses that have left Russia. He stressed that the measure should boost the production of goods.

With a population of slightly more than 19 million, Kazakhstan is the wealthiest and largest country in Central Asia. For foreign partners, Kazakhstan remains one of the main investment partners in the region. In 2021, Kazakhstan’s economy absorbed about $24 billion of foreign investments, which is 38 percent more than a year earlier. Over 60 percent of foreign investment is already in the non-resource sector of the economy.