LIMA - Peru has a ways to go before it can enjoy the emerging economic power status attributed to neighbors Brazil and, to a lesser extent, Chile. But it has begun making an international name for itself in one crowd-pleasing industry: food.
Peruvian businessmen Arnold Wu and his brother, owners of Pardos Chicken, opened their first foreign branch of the restaurant chain in 2002 in relatively nearby Santiago, Chile. But they stretched quite a bit further for their second foreign location: Miami, Florida.
There are now 42 Pardos Chicken restaurants in Peru, Chile and the United States. The Wu brothers dont plan to stop there. They are currently looking for partners in all three countries in order to keep expanding and quickly. The short-term plan is to open 25 new branches.
Pardos Chicken is by no means the only Peruvian fast food vendor to be making a go of it abroad. Other successful brands include China Wok, which has 44 branches outside of Peru; La Caravan; Bembos, the first Peruvian chain to break into the Indian market; and Embarcadero 41.
Every year, more and more Peruvian restaurants open in foreign countries. The most popular business approach is with franchises, says Juan Carlos Mathews, a researcher at Perus Universidad del Pacífico.
Among all of the Peruvian franchises, 23 have opened branches abroad, says Mathews. And of those, 95% are restaurants, which together pull in about $90 million per year.
Mathews predicts that by the end of this year, the number of Peruvian franchises operating abroad could reach 36, with annuals sales of more than $115 million.
According to Daniel Manrique, president of Perus National Chamber of Franchises, the top destinations for Peruvian restaurants are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama. The United States is an interesting market, he says, since people there have a real appreciation for Peruvian cuisine. But so far the number of Peruvian franchises there is relatively small. Pardos Chicken, which invites its English-speaking customers to taste the Peruvian flavor! is an exception in that regard.
Exporting franchises to the United States is expensive, says Manrique. It can cost between $25,000 and $40,000 a month just to rent a place. And in terms of infrastructure, you need to invest at least $1.5 million up front.
Read the full story in Spanish by María Cristina Pezet
*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations