A new partnership is bringing the Whopper to sub-Saharan Africa. The Miami-based fast food chain Burger King has teamed up with South African energy company Sasol (NYSE:SSL) to open up restaurants at several Sasol fuel stations.
"This deal allows Burger King South Africa to open stores within Sasol’s national fuel retail network and will include company-owned outlets, as well as awarding franchising opportunities to current and potential Sasol franchisees," said the Sasol press release.
Burger King South Africa was formed this year from a partnership between Burger King Worldwide (NYSE:BKW) and Grand Parade Investments (JSE:GPL), which is based in Johannesburg.
Burger King restaurants are operational throughout the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, but the corporation's African presence was limited to Egypt and Morocco until it launched operations in Cape Town, South Africa, this May. Burger King will have to move quickly to catch up with McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) and KFC, which is owned by YUM! Brands Incorporated (NYSE:YUM); both have a long-established presence in South Africa with several hundred outlets between them.
Burger King South Africa CEO Jaye Sinclair told Bloomberg last month that the company hopes to open 12 branches in the country by the end of next year, and more throughout Africa later on.
"The South African consumer is looking for value,” Sinclair said. “There are more and more households where both partners work, so the demand for quick food climbs."
Indeed, South Africa's middle class has more than doubled over the past decade; it now includes more than 4.2 million people, among a total population of 51 million. But much of the population -- up to 47 percent, by some counts -- lives in poverty, and the unemployment rate is up around 25 percent.
Another serious problem facing South Africa is obesity -- something Burger King restaurants could exacerbate given the high calorie counts of some of its most popular offerings. A 2010 survey from the global health care firm GlaxoSmithKline found that 61 percent of South Africans are overweight or obese, making it the third most overweight population on earth.
Burger King restaurants will begin popping up at Sasol facilities in late 2013.