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McDonald's in Latin America - Statistics & Facts

In 2019, McDonald's was found to be the most valuable fast food brand in the world, outranking other household names in the quick service restaurant business such as KFC and Burger King. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the history of this fast-food chain dates back to the opening of its first restaurant in 1967, in Puerto Rico. Since the turn of the century, McDonald’s operations in the region have mostly been under the management of Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc., which literally translates to 'Golden Arches' and is currently the brand’s largest franchisee worldwide.

Arcos Dorados employs nearly 80 thousand people in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, its workforce has been decreasing since 2015. Considered one of the most successful companies in the food industry in the Americas, the revenue generated by Arcos Dorados reached a staggering three billion U.S. dollars in 2019. Initially founded by Colombian entrepreneur Woods Staton and headquartered in Montevideo, Uruguay, Arcos Dorados creates most of its revenue by directly managing McDonald's-branded outlets, unlike the U.S.-based McDonald's Corporation, which earns a larger share of revenue by franchising restaurants worldwide. In addition, almost half of Arcos Dorados outlets operate in freestanding buildings, while only a minority of them have an in-store format.

Brazil and the rest of the Southern Cone are the regional markets where this fast-food brand has proved most profitable in the past years. The largest Latin American economy is also home to the highest number of McDonald's restaurants, followed by the subregion that includes Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica. A recent survey revealed that McDonald's is indeed the favorite fast-food restaurant among Brazilian consumers. Brazil also harbors the largest quantity of McDonald's Dessert Centers in Latin America, while the largest share of McCafé outlets operated by Arcos Dorados are located in the subregion comprising Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.

In Latin America and around the world, the McDonald's brand plays in the big leagues of advertisement. Only in 2018, Arcos Dorados invested over 160 thousand U.S. dollars in advertising expenditure. In recent years, the company has faced a few public relations scandals, such as the wrongful deaths of two workers due to an electric shock in Peru in December 2019, and multiple discrimination and harassment accusations made by former employees in Brazil since 2017. In hopes of improving its public image, Arcos Dorados continues to sponsor various sporting events in the region, such as Argentina's Superliga soccer championship and the M5K women's running marathon. As a part of its advertising strategy, the company has also recently implemented social projects, for instance, a 14 million book giveaway during its reading campaign 'McLecturaFeliz'.

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McDonald's in Latin America

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Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc.

Regional differences

Caribbean division


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