May 17, 2020

The fast casual market is heating up in Asia

fast casual
restaurant chains
franchise growth
Frazer Jones
3 min
A Pacific Coffee Company location in Beijing, China: while QSR chains are already popular throughout Asia, can fast casual concepts find the same success? [IMAGE CREDIT: testing /]
As consumers become increasingly interested in combining convenience with high quality ingredients, fast casual restaurant chains like Chipotle Mexican...

As consumers become increasingly interested in combining convenience with high quality ingredients, fast casual restaurant chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread have been swiftly on the rise.

But the U.S. and Canada aren’t the only regions where these consumer interests are growing. Now experts are predicting that, with the support of investors, a fast casual boom could be on the horizon for Asia as well.

RELATED CONTENT: South Korea snack giant Orion eyes Tesco's assets up for sale

As CNBC reports, investors are starting to take a special interest in expanding the presence of fast casual chains to Asia consumer markets beyond Japan. These investors include LionRock Capital, an investment firm that recently created a spinoff company Zest Group to focus on the development of fast casual chains in areas of Southeast Asia like Singapore:

"In the U.S., you have successful fast-casual brands like Chipotle but there are few iconic brands in Asia outside Japan. We want to change that," Hari Kumar, co-founder of investment firm LionRock Capital, told CNBC.


Importing popular restaurant chains from other regions can be tricky, especially if those chains don’t have a firm plan in place to change up their menus for a market with differing customs and tastes. So firms like Zest Group are working to build all-new chains from the ground up to perfectly suit Asian consumers while still representing global trends—CNBC reports that Zest Group’s primary projects so far include a French-style boulangerie and a pizza chain (because everyone around the world can relate to pizza).

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This strategy has some asking, is Southeast Asia ready for the fast casual concept? Anyone can introduce a new concept into a new region, but will it catch on among the new audience? Is this a demographic where fast casual can thrive? Experts and analysts are affirming that the interest is there:

"The long-term opportunity in fast casual lies in the fact that global consumers are changing their habits and shifting toward more flexible, more casual and more ingredients-focused dining experiences. That has moved past fad to megatrend, and it's not expected to slow down any time soon," [Elizabeth Friend, senior consumer analyst at Euromonitor] said.


But while the interest is certain, analysts also note that the fast casual boom in the United States has been a bit of an anomaly—while there is an increase in fast casual chains amid similar markets such as Europe, that growth has been relatively slow compared to the U.S. and could be more indicative of the kind of growth that can be expected in markets like China or Singapore.

RELATED CONTENT: Lion invests $150M in Tasmania specialty dairy to support Asia's consumption boom

Still, while there may not be a boom, there are a lot of opportunities out there waiting to be taken advantage of in these emerging markets. The savvy investors who are getting in early could be setting themselves up for major success.


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Jun 11, 2021

Frito-Lay in manufacturing expansion

Helen Adams
2 min
Frito-Lay to create 160 jobs with Rosenberg, Texas, in a manufacturing plant expansion

Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo and leading snack manufacturer, will make a $200m investment at its Rosenberg, Texas, site. 

The investment will add two manufacturing lines for Funyuns and tortilla chips, completed by 2023 and the project will provide 160 new jobs.

The Frito-Lay Rosenberg facility today employs more than 750 full-time plant and fleet associates, produces more than 117 million pounds of snacks annually and has a revenue of $15b.


Frito-Lay continues to support the local community

This is the second investment Frito-Lay has made since 2019 to the Rosenberg site when the company announced a $138 million investment that added a new Cheetos line, new seasoning and packaging equipment and a warehouse expansion, set to be complete late 2021.

With Frito-Lay's continued commitment to the communities where its associates live and work, the company has programmes to give back in the Houston area, including its Building the Future Together initiative, in partnership with Feed the Children

The programme has provided donations to five Houston-area high schools during the 2020-2021 school year, supplementing 33,000 meals. The programme also provided monthly deliveries of other items, such as:

  • School supplies
  • Snacks
  • Books
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Personal care item

In addition, The PepsiCo Foundation programme supports Black and Hispanic aspiring and graduating community college students, through another partnership with Houston Community College, providing more than 200 scholarships over the next two years.


Frito-Lay bringing investments to life

"We've called Rosenberg home for nearly 40 years”, said Laura Maxwell, senior vice president of supply chain, PepsiCo Foods North America.  Throughout that time, the support of Fort Bend County has helped us invest in the right areas so that we can continue to grow and provide jobs to the community. The Rosenberg site has the largest footprint of any Frito-Lay facility in Texas, producing snacks for Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas and Georgia, and several other parts of the country when we hit times of peak demand."

"Frito-Lay has been a long-time partner in Fort Bend County, coming to Rosenberg in 1982 with about 100 employees," said Vincent M. Morales, Jr., commissioner, Fort Bend County Commissioner's Office. "They have expanded in Rosenberg over the years, choosing to grow their footprint in our community, and now have more than 700 employees – and that number will go up with this latest expansion. We are proud of our partnership with Frito-Lay and thank them for their investment in Fort Bend."

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