Update: Updated at 9 p.m. with additional actions and responses from Yum Brands, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.
The parent company of KFC and Plano-based Pizza Hut announced Tuesday that it is suspending all investment and development in Russia in response to the war in Ukraine, making it one of the first U.S. food chains to take such action. Yum Brands later upped the ante, saying it will suspend all operations of company-owned KFC restaurants and all Pizza Hut locations in Russia in partnership with its master franchisee.
Shortly after Yum Brands’ first announcement, several other large U.S. brands announced similar actions including Starbucks and McDonald’s. The burger chain said it will temporarily close all 850 of its restaurants in Russia and pause operations there. The company faced mounting pressure in recent days to break its silence on the war unfolding in Ukraine given its presence in Russia.
In a letter sent to employees and franchisees, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said “the situation is extraordinarily challenging” and “there are many considerations” to be made for a global brand such as theirs, but the call was made to close all locations for the time being because they “cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine.”
Kempczinski’s letter said despite the closures, McDonald’s will continue to pay all employees in Russia. The company will continue to assess the situation and determine if additional measures need to be taken, he said.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson also sent a letter to employees Tuesday saying the company will suspend all business activity in Russia. The letter said they will “immediately pause store operations and will provide support to the nearly 2,000 partners in Russia who depend on Starbucks for their livelihood.”
Beverage brands Coca-Cola and PepsiCo joined in on pushing back against the Russian invasion of Ukraine and said they too are suspending sales in Russia. PepsiCo will continue to sell “daily essentials” such as baby formulas, baby food and dairy products.
“Given the horrific events occurring in Ukraine we are announcing the suspension of the sale of Pepsi-Cola and our global beverage brands in Russia,” CEO Ramon Laguarta said in a letter sent to employees. “We will also be suspending capital investments and all advertising and promotional activities in Russia.”
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