What is Pizza Hut hiding?

Pizza with poison logo

I was recently surprised to discover that PHD Pizza in Hong Kong is a legitimate subsidiary of Pizza Hut HK and not just some inferior knock-off Shanzhai brand. Looking at their terrible website and marvelling at how unlike US or UK fast-food services it is, I began to wonder about the differences in nutrition between the two brands.

Being an optimistic sort, I wrote to them at Pizza Hut HK with a simple request for basic nutritional info. Here is what I said:

Dear sir/madam,

as a keen Pizza Hut and PHD Pizza customer that is also concerned about my own health, I would greatly appreciate if you would provide me with nutritional information about your products. This will greatly help me in making my purchases in future.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Davidson

I received an automated response saying they’d get back to me within roughly 14 working days – so I was pleasantly surprised to see an email in my inbox only 6 days later. Here is what it said:

Dear Mr. Davidson,

Thank you for your email dated 22-May.

Firstly, thank you so much for your continue support of Pizza Hut. However, we regret that we are unable to provide the related nutrition information for our products.

Once again, thank you for your interest of Pizza Hut and we look forward to serving you again in the future.

Yours sincerely,

Alice Ng

It seems that Pizza Hut has either no knowledge of what value their products have, or they have no desire to let the public know. Either one is troubling.

Now this corporate secrecy isn’t too much of a surprise to me. When I wrote to the popular Bread Talk brand saying I was impressed that one of their products boasted of containing no trans-fats and asking how much trans-fats were in their other products I didn’t even get a response. There is no legal compulsion for a private enterprise to inform the public – especially in Hong Kong.

Yet I’m surprised by Pizza Hut (or their Asian franchisee, Jardine Matheson), because Pizza Hut in the US, along with many other large franchises, does provide nutritional information. A large, global brand like Pizza Hut might be expected to have global standards about this sort of thing.

So the only conclusion that I can come to is that Jardine Matheson makes particularly poor quality products that the public should be encouraged to eat for JM’s profit, but not educated about what they are doing to their bodies.

Alongside fears about salt, fat and trans-fats in their diet, Pizza Hut and PHD Pizza customers might also worry about how much rainforest has been destroyed to lubricate their lunch with palm oil – in an industry that is pulling away from harmful methods, Jardine Matheson still stands accused of making use of dodgy supply chains that are destroying the habitat of rare animals and fast forwarding climate change.

Update 15th June 2015

I pressed for further information from my new contact, Alice, at Pizza Hut Hong Kong. The following email exchange shows that the company has no interest in explaining itself to its customers or providing any more information. This is a real problem because the whole concept of a free market relies on consumers being able to knowledgeably and rationally choose to support or boycott a company based on e.g. how healthy their products are. Hong Kong is famed for being liberal and a defender of such free market ideology but their lack of regulation allows corporations such as Jardine Matheson to corrupt the system by leaving the population uninformed.

It is highly likely that Jardine Matheson and Pizza Hut Hong Kong make use of cheap trans-fats in their products, something that has been thoroughly done away with in more open countries due to the extremely harmful nature of trans-fats, including in Pizza Hut elsewhere. In Hong Kong there is no recourse for the anxious citizen because neither the private sector or the politicians have any accountability to the populace.

2nd June 2015
Dear Alice,

I am surprised that you are unable to provide nutritional information about your products. Pizza Hut in the USA and Pizza Hut in the UK both provide nutritional information directly on their websites. Can you please provide some detail as to why Pizza Hut under Jardine Matheson in Asia does not provide this information?
yours sincerely,

Rob Davidson

4th June 2015
Dear Mr. Davidson,

Thank you for your reply.
As the leader in pizza market, we strive to serve our customer to the best satisfaction and welcome valuable opinions from our customers. We have passed your information to the related department for further consideration.
Once again, thank you so much for your interest of Pizza Hut and we look forward to serving you in the near future.
Yours sincerely,

Alice Ng
4th June 2015
Dear Alice,

thank you for your response. Please can you tell me if I may expect a response from this related department and, if so, what sort of time scale I might expect?
Yours sincerely,

Rob
15th June 2015
Dear Mr. Davidson,

Thank you for your reply.
After consulting the related departments again, we regret that your expectation might not be fulfilled and we are unable to provide such nutritional information.
Once again, thank you so much for your interest of Pizza Hut Hong Kong.
Yours sincerely,

Lily Chan

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