The rise of American doughnuts

Dunkin' Brands and Krispy Kreme are expanding overseas. Will other countries embrace their sugary treats?

By Jonathan Berr Sep 12, 2013 12:23PM
A cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee and a donut bag (© Tim Boyle/Getty Images)People around the world may disagree with the U.S. government's policies, but they do think America does at least one thing right: doughnuts.

Dunkin' Brands
(DNKN), which operates in 31 countries, is about to re-enter the U.K., which it exited in the 1990s, according to The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, rival Krispy Kreme's (KKD) first location in Russia is set to open Thursday. The company can be found in 21 countries.

Competition between the chains is heating up overseas. According to the Journal, Krispy Kreme has been in the U.K. for several years. Dunkin' hopes to win over U.K. consumers who patronize Starbucks (SBUX) and McDonald's (MCD) with "slightly milder" coffee, breakfast sandwiches and doughnuts, the paper says. The chain is holding talks with franchisees about adding 150 U.K. locations over the next five years.

The doughnut chains are also doing battle in Russia. Krispy Kreme franchisee Arkady Novikov has snagged a prime location in Moscow's Red Square. He told the Moscow Times that opening the doughnut shop is a dream come true. Novikov's store will offer doughnut flavors tailored for the local market. Five more Krispy Kreme shops are set to open in Russia's capital in the coming months, the paper said.

Dunkin', based in Massachusetts, is also in Russia, which it returned to in 2010 after exiting the country in 1999 "following three years of losses exacerbated by a rogue franchisee who sold liquor and meat pies alongside coffee and crullers," the Journal said. Dunkin', which has 10,400 restaurants, also plans to expand into other international markets, such as Vietnam, and plans to enter the California market after an absence of several years. The company also owns Baskin' Robbins ice cream shops.

Krispy Kreme, which has 789 locations, plans to have 900 international shops in operation by January 2017.

Perhaps Dunkin' and Krispy Kreme can help President Obama win the world's hearts and minds through their stomachs.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Sep 12, 2013 3:10PM

I'm from the East Coast originally.  Here's the deal:  Dunkin Donuts is about the coffee.  It is NOT the direct competitor of Krispy Crème and such.  Dunkin Donuts, in its region, is more of the alternative to the newfangled Starbucks with its snooty, boutique, "gourmet", European style girlie beverages than it is a "donut shop".  The workaday blue collar contractors are backed up around the corner, lined up fro a good 'ol cup of inimitable American Joe (coffee) from Dunkins'. 


Real coffee for real men, or Starbucks lattes for pussies?


Why is it so many investors don't really "get" Dunkins'?  Their customers do.  

Sep 12, 2013 4:04PM
Whats really sad is that while Dunkins is better, if one could be transported back in time they would realize that a dunkin donut of today is disgusting compared to a dunkin donut of 30 years ago.  Of course there's a reason.  Today they bake donuts in a regional bakery and ship them to stores twice a day.  Thirty years ago each store baked their own donuts every 4 hours and threw away the ones on the shelves.  Fresh always instead of fresh never.
Sep 13, 2013 2:38AM
A day old Krispy Kreme is better than a fresh Dunkin Donuts anyday.
Sep 13, 2013 1:54AM
Dunkin donuts are dry and stale no matter what time of the day you go in. If they made them on sight they would triple their business. Gotta save that buck! I wish the old spud nut shops of the sixties were back. 
Sep 12, 2013 3:47PM
krispy kreme is all hype try a local donut shop they have better donuts.
Sep 12, 2013 7:06PM
What's funny is that Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Creme are now all over Asia and most of the really good Mom and Pop shops for donuts in Texas are owned and run by Koreans!  Go figure!
Sep 12, 2013 5:03PM

I hate Dunkin's donuts anymore - bad aftertaste, cheap tasting ingredients. Their regular coffee is still very good though. KK is better if you eat them right away or they get mushy. But the best... the BEST in my area are "Yum Yum" donuts which are cheaper, bigger and fresher than the others and they don't beg for tips.

Sep 12, 2013 3:54PM
In the poll we were only allowed to choose from Dunkin or Krispy. I love Dunkin, but Tim Horton has the best donuts. [Yes, I know that Tim Horton is one of the international competitors.]
Sep 12, 2013 5:17PM
Instead of expanding overseas, maybe they (Dunkin') should bring some back to cities in the States that no longer have a store, like they're going to do with CA. I can't tell you where the closest one to Portland, OR is. Haven't seen one in years. And Northwesterners love their coffee, so it should be a no brainer to open up a few to test the waters.
Sep 13, 2013 9:22AM
I prefer to go to my local bakery and get some quality baked goods, supporting my local business owner is more important than some big corporation.
Sep 12, 2013 8:58PM
Many years ago, Dunkin Donuts had really delicious donuts.  That was when the donuts were made right there in the places they were sold.  But now these donuts are baked in a central location and they are no longer worth the calories.  For me, Krispy  Kreme  donuts are bland and too sweet.  Neither company makes a good donut.  
Sep 13, 2013 7:30AM

Local donut shops are the best - there was one in Angleton Texas called Karl's.  Man what food!  The owner, a WW2 vet, was just a great guy. 


If I had to pick a favorite chain?  Shipley's or Southern Maid

Sep 13, 2013 4:42PM
That's suppose to be "38% say they don't eat donuts? ****! ".
Sep 12, 2013 3:53PM
I grew up on Dunkin' Donuts and will always prefer the taste of them.  I just don't like the taste of Krispy Kreme, and I'm not exactly sure why.  They seem too sweet, if that is possible.  They just don't taste like donuts are supposed to taste.  Shipley's, Dunkin', mom and pop donuts all taste great, but Krispy K is second best, in my opinion, and then when they are more expensive too why would anyone buy those donuts?
That said, it is interesting that they are expanding to foreign markets, but I have found that the quality outside the US does not always follow the brand.  I was just in South Korea, and the Dunkin' Donuts there were horrible - comparable to gas station prepackaged donuts over here (not powdered).  Yuck!  The muffins were preferable to the donuts, and yes I tried some different kinds of donuts and muffins.  I didn't see a Krispy Kreme shop.
Sep 13, 2013 1:24PM

nothing says donuts like a dunkin' donut, the donut which is coffee dunked before eatin or eatin with coffee. donuts and coffee are like beer and pizza, an "american tradition", i prefer dunkin donuts because they are as classic as hot coffee with 2 lumps of sugar, no cream, no "flavored" coffee, no corn syrup...the same way dennis " no cure for cancer Leary", "rescue me" Leary likes it.


this the last time i checked this is dunkin donuts.

Sep 13, 2013 8:14PM
Both Crappy Crème and Junkin' Donuts SUCKS!!!  Local Mom Pop Shops are much better and if they are owned by a Korean or Hmong then they are usually the best.
Sep 13, 2013 5:03PM
I dont care much for either of there coffee the only thing i really enjoy from dunkin is the pumpkin flavor in the fall for the coffee. and if you can find an employee that can make the coffee good is rare. The chains seemed understaffed and impatient. They dont really care enough about the customer to take there time to make it the way they like it. Unfortunatly starbucks is alot more expensive, but at least you can make it how you like it.
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