By Lucy Adautin
McDonald’s said the Israel-Hamas war disrupted its sales at Middle Eastern locations, citing misinformation over the conflict and accusations that the company favored one side or the other in the war, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said on Monday.
The chain faced backlash after McDonald’s Israel said on social media that it provided free meals to Israeli soldiers. Meanwhile, other McDonald’s franchises in the Middle East said they would donate to relief efforts in Gaza.
McDonald’s has missed sales targets partly due to boycotts against its products in some parts of the world over its perceived support for Israel, the company said.
The war in Gaza “meaningfully impacted” performance in the last quarter of 2023 in some regions, company officials said on Monday. Sales growth in the Middle East, China and India stood at 0.7 percent in the quarter, far below expectations.
The fast food company is only one of several United States brands hit by boycotts and protests over their perceived support for Israel’s war on Gaza. On social media sites, lists are going around of brands accused of supporting Israel, although the ties are often not clearly explained. The push is part of a larger Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel-friendly brands since 2005.
While the growth target for sales in the Middle East, India and China was set at 5.5 percent from October to December, the company achieved 0.7 percent growth — and likely saw its sales shrink in just the Middle East. Global sales grew by 3.4 percent in the same period, compared with 8.8 percent in the preceding quarter.
Franchises in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Turkey issued statements distancing themselves from the free food campaign in Israel and collectively pledged aid worth $3m to Gaza.
Chief Executive Chris Kempczinski said the company is not expecting significant changes as long as the war persists. “It’s a human tragedy what’s going on, and I think that does weigh on brands like ours,” he said.