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Pork DonutsOne can almost hear Homer Simpson saying, “Mmmm…pork donuts.”

Sure enough, that’s what the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins is serving up in China, where it hopes to open another 100 stores in the next two to three years.

Dunkin’ Brands has also announced a multi-year marketing deal with National Basketball Association star LeBron James, who has a big following of fans in China. The company now has about 150 locations in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

“Donuts are a very flexible product. You can do savory donuts, you can do donuts with shredded pork — that’s in China,” said Chief Executive Officer Nigel Travis in an interview with Reuters.

“We also have a range of other savory products that we have been testing and introducing country by country.”

Getting the menu right in each market is crucial. Pork donuts, for example, probably won’t sell too well in Indonesia and Malaysia, where people are predominantly Muslim.

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In the whole Asia-Pacific region, where Dunkin’ Brands has over 5,400 outlets, the company wants to open at least 250 net new stores for both its brands by the year 2015. Net new stores refer to the number of stores that open minus those that close.

Dunkin’ Brands, which has a market value of $3.5 billion, competes in Asia with the likes of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., Starbucks Corp., McDonald’s Corp., and J.CO, an Indonesian donut and coffee chain.

Dunkin’ Brands selected LeBron James as its brand ambassador in Asia partly because of the Miami Heat star’s popularity in China, Travis said.

James will promote Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins through advertising, social media, and in-store marketing, as well as personal appearances at various locations.

John Costello, chief global marketing and innovation officer, said that Dunkin’ Brands is also developing milk tea and bagels with pork floss topping to please Chinese taste buds.

“While we compete in very competitive markets, I think the key is to focus on the consumer, to understand their needs better than anybody and deliver on that,” he said. “We think the best strategy is to execute on brand differentiation.”

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