McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said on Thursday several markets in the Middle East and some outside the region were experiencing a "meaningful business impact" due to the Israel-Hamas conflict as well as "associated misinformation" about the brand.
Major Western fast-food chains including McDonald's and Starbucks have seen largely spontaneous, grassroots boycott campaigns over their perceived pro-Israeli stance and alleged financial ties to Israel.
Kempczinski said the misinformation surrounding brands like McDonald's was "disheartening and ill-founded."
"In every country where we operate, including in Muslim countries, McDonald's is proudly represented by local owner operators who work tirelessly to serve and support their communities while employing thousands of their fellow citizens," Kempczinski said in a LinkedIn post.
In October, McDonald's Israel said on its social media accounts that it had given thousands of free meals to Israel Defense Forces personnel.
This was later renounced by McDonald's franchises in some Muslim countries, highlighting the polarized regional politics that global corporations navigate during war.
Some of the Western brands are feeling the impact of boycotts in Egypt and Jordan that have now caught on in some countries outside the Arab region including Muslim-majority Malaysia.
Around 1,200 Israelis were killed by Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7. Israeli bombardments have since killed about 22,438 people in Gaza by Thursday.
Total Annual Revenue
As of fiscal 2022, the company franchised and operated about 40,275 McDonald's restaurants across more than 100 countries. The fast-food chain reported total annual revenue of $23.18 billion (€21.21 billion) in the year.
Shares of the company were down marginally in afternoon trading.