An American burger chain setting up shop in New Zealand, and dubbed one of the world's worst for high-calorie meals, has hit back at criticism from an Auckland community leader.

Ian Letele, Carl's Jr Asia Pacific vice president, said the business provided low-calorie options and had a big expansion strategy for New Zealand - and was seeking to target "young, hungry guys".

He was responding to Derek Battersby, head of the New Lynn-based Whau Community Board who said earlier this month that fast food chains targeted the poor as he objected to Carl's Jr opening in Avondale and called for education about fast food.

But Mr Letele denied Carl's Jr sold bad food and invited Mr Battersby to sample some of their healthy options.


He added: "Low socio-economic demographics are not part of our site selection criteria. Our strategy has always been to target young, hungry guys with our site selection determined largely by that demographic.

"Carl's Jr plans to open about 30 restaurants in New Zealand that are accessible to that demographic.

"Each Carl's Jr store that opens will employ around 30 people.

"In addition to this, jobs are created throughout the construction process and ongoing jobs are created for our suppliers - all of which contribute to the national economy," Mr Letele said.

Mr Battersby said he had found few good options on the Carl's Jr menu and he stood by his claims about the business going after poor people.

"I have indeed viewed your menu and do note that there is a limited healthy option," he responded to Mr Letele. "I look forward to you adding to that as your company further develops its presence in Auckland, and in New Zealand generally.

"However, I have difficulty in connecting with your comments around not targeting low socio-economic areas," Mr Battersby said, adding that Glen Innes, Takanini and Avondale, where stores are located, are "deprived" areas.



Carl's Jr:

*Has a notorious foot-long cheeseburger that has twice as many calories as KFC's Double Down
*Carl's Jr is world's fourth biggest burger chain
*Now opened in Takanini and Glen Innes
*New store to open soon in Avondale
*30 restaurants planned for New Zealand